Werner Herzog's Into The Abyss - Exclusive Interview Transcript

The full transcript between Werner Herzog and Delbert Burkett, the father of Jason Burkett, Michael Perry’s accomplice in the triple homicide which occurred in Conroe, Texas, in 2001, taken from the DVD release of Into The Abyss.
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The full transcript between Werner Herzog and Delbert Burkett, the father of Jason Burkett, Michael Perry’s accomplice in the triple homicide which occurred in Conroe, Texas, in 2001, taken from the DVD release of Into The Abyss.

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Werner Herzog is one of the world's greatest living filmmakers, with a body of work that is as prolific as it is consistent. His latest documentary feature Into The Abyss, released on DVD this week, was a harrowing look at capital punishment in America, focusing on the case of Michael Perry who is currently serving a life sentence for triple homicide. We've managed to get a transcription of some of Herzog's interviews with those involved that didn't make the final cut, but appear on the DVD extras.

00:54:00 – 00:57:45 – Werner Herzog is interviewing Delbert Burkett, the father of Jason Burkett, Michael Perry’s accomplice in the triple homicide which occurred in Conroe, Texas, in 2001, who is serving a life sentence. Delbert is also currently in prison.

Werner Herzog: There’s one significant moment, when Jason was found guilty of triple homicide, you appeared in court. Can you describe what you said to the jury?

Delbert Burkett: Well, I explained to them that I didn’t think killing him was gonna bring back those people or do anything to correct what happened. And I asked the jury, please don’t kill my son. They never had a chance. They didn’t have a father. I told them I was never there, his mother was a single mother with 4 children […] handicapped, she was on disability. They lived off food stamps… He really had a real poor life when growing up. I just asked them not to kill my son. It wasn’t his fault. I wish I could take his time, do his time. Because I feel like it’s my fault. If I’d been there, quite possibly this wouldn’t happen. Quite possibly. (pause) The jury went to leave. As the door closed behind them, I heard 2 ladies break down, I heard them crying. Then it was all over. His lawyer came over. And I remember his words, he said, “You got ‘em”.

W.H: You saved his life…

D.B: Yeah, he said “You got’em”, I said “What do you mean?” and he said there was 10 votes, 8 to 2, and those 2 voted not to kill him. And I think those were the 2 ladies I heard crying.  […] I got a little help (points to the sky) I didn’t deserve the help, he didn’t deserve it, but…we got it from some place.

***

Werner Herzog is interviewing Jason Burkett, Michael Perry’s accomplice in the triple homicide, which occurred in Conroe, Texas, in 2001, who is serving a life sentence. If granted parole, Jason will be released in 2041.

Jason Burkett: The hardest part was to look at him (his father) and see he was sincerely sorry for what he’s done throughout my childhood and he’d been in prison. I don’t blame him, but I seen out there he understood how that affected us. I cried one day and that was it. Even after conviction, the only thing that hurt was my Dad testifying.

***

00:58:01-01:01:00

Delbert Burkett: […] His brother Chris was also in prison… and all three of us went to diagnostics together […] All 3 of us had Thanksgiving together, me, Chris and Jason, over at the diagnostics unit. They thought it was kinda cool, but as a father I thought it was pretty embarrassing to be sitting there in prison my sons.

W.H: All of them incarcerated

D.B: Yes. And then me and Jason went over to this next place together, handcuffed, on a bus. And that’s something that I’d never in life dreamed of that would’ve happened. That same little baby that was… you had to hold him down to take the bone marrow test done, the same 6-pound baby…

W.H: Describe the feeling to me when you were handcuffed to you son. Can you explain it?

D.B: No, not really

W.H: Try to describe it for us

D.B: Well… I don’t know, I just felt as a total failure. Total failure as a father.

W.H: And you could feel his hand

D.B: (nods) And we were handcuffed. And we were sitting there…and it was just a total failure. That’s what I felt like. I felt like crap. I used a different word to the jury but that’s what I meant. He had a trash for a father and here I was, sitting with my baby son, on a prison bus and (shakes head) I don’t think it gets much lower than that you know. It just don’t.

Into The Abyss is available now. Follow the link below to buy a copy...

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