Inside Death Row with Trevor McDonald – episode 2 – ITV1

by Lisa McGarry


Trevor McDonald returns to ITV1 tonight, with his second episode of the gripping two parter ‘Inside Death Row .’

The second week at Indiana State Prison sees Trevor step into a cell with a killer who talks openly about killing a woman and her four-year-old daughter.

Fredrick Baer has been on death row for seven years after being convicted of the two murders. He had always maintained his innocence. Trevor visits Baer with Superintendent Wilson, the man who will one day oversee his execution.

Trevor asks Baer what he thinks of Superintendent Wilson. Baer says: “It’s not actually Mr Wilson that’s taking my life, it’s the State of Indiana. He’s a good guy. He’s a fair person. He’ll listen, he’ll understand and he’ll exercise judgement on what he has to do fairly. He’s not discriminatory towards anybody and I’ve got to respect that.”

Trevor also asks Superintendent Wilson how he comes to terms with executions. He replies: “I’ve come to grips with it by virtue of meeting with my religious leaders, my particular church and how the church feels about it. I’ve also asked God for forgiveness for my feebleness in that I may not always understand what his intentions are for us.”

Inside Death Row with Trevor McDonald: the room where inmates receive a lethal injection.

Trevor then steps inside Baer’s cell, which is adorned with pictures of Diana, Princess of Wales. Baer tells Trevor that he spends his days with his pet cat and writing to his pen pal girlfriend in Germany.

But Trevor knows that Baer, who slit the throat of a woman and her four-year-old daughter, provokes outrage and disgust amongst the other killers on death row.

The programme features footage of Baer denying the murders at the time of his arrest and he explains to Trevor that an abusive childhood and the death of his sister lead him into a life of crime.


As Trevor and Baer sit on Baer’s tiny bed in his cell, he tells Trevor: “I’ve been a thief all my life. That’s all I’ve ever been. I’m not proud of it, but I’m not going to sugar-coat it. I’m a thief, I’ve always been a thief. I started stealing matchbox cars at kindergarten. I’ve been stealing all my life.”

Baer says his sister was in an abusive relationship and was murdered, and that was the final straw for him.

Talking about his crime and the afternoon he murdered the young mother and her daughter, he says: “I walked up to the home and under the ruse of being lost I knocked on the door and asked to use the phone. A little kid answered the door, so my first thought was, ‘Can I use the phone.’ Her mum came to the door and I asked to use the phone.

“I was withdrawing from meth and…I just wasn’t there. My intention was to rape her (the mother) and I couldn’t go through with it. I’d gone too far to back out now. I knew I was headed back to prison. And I guess I thought if I killed them, nobody would ever know, and so I cut their throats.

“I cut both their throats. I was a cold-hearted son of a bitch.”

Baer tells Trevor that he always remembers the names and the birthdays of his victims, because he feels as though he is a part of their lives.

Trevor says: “You’re not a part of their lives because they have gone on. They have died. They have been killed.”

Baer replies: “I’m a part of their family’s lives. I’ve killed a little kid in the worst possible way that can be imagined. You can’t even imagine how I feel.”

Trevor says that meeting Baer has made him revise his thoughts on the death penalty. He adds: “I’ve never believed in the death penalty myself. I’ve always been against it, and I probably still am. But when I think about what you’ve done, I begin to understand why people feel it should be the appropriate sentence for crimes like yours. Do you understand that?”

And Baer admits: “I do deserve to be executed. There’s no way around it. If a person does what I’ve done, they should be executed.”

Also in this episode, Trevor goes inside the death chamber. Superintendent Wilson shows Trevor the route that the prisoners take as they leave death row and make their way to the building where they will meet their end.

He sees the sparse holding room where the condemned man will spend his last few hours. Superintendent Wilson explains that some pass the time watching television, while others just sit quietly, meditating.

Trevor sees the gurney where the prisoners are strapped down and injected with a lethal cocktail of chemicals. He sees the room where people can watch through a window as the death sentence is carried out.

Superintendent Wilson explains that most of the prisoners accept their fate and get on the gurney, but one inmate was completely passive and had to be carried from his cell.

Superintendent Wilson says: “We do everything we can to make sure the offender’s comfortable. We talk to him to make sure he understands the process…we try to be there for him. Once he’s placed on the gurney he’s allowed a final statement. An actual death warrant is read to him, so that he understands why he’s in this position, and, at that point, then we start the execution process.”

Trevor also visits the more privileged part of the prison where inmates live in a dorm with cubicles instead of cells. He talks to John Serwatka, who is serving life with no possibility of release after being paid to kill two innocent people he never knew.

And, Trevor meets the convicted killers who, after a period of good behaviour, are allowed to keep pet cats in their cells.

Dennis Leer tells Trevor that his cat, Rascal, is like his child because he has raised her since she was a kitten. Leer explains that the worst part of being in prison is losing your loved ones. He explains that his mum has died while he has been in jail. He tells Trevor that having a pet has given him something to love.

Trevor witnesses a total lock-down in Cell House C – the largest cell block in the prison – after one prisoner was beaten so badly by another inmate that officers thought he was dead. Inmates are locked up for 24 hours a day following the attack, partly for their own safety but also, prisoners feel, as a punishment. Leer describes the atmosphere to Trevor and recalls one time when lock-down lasted for 11 months.

He says: “You’ve got to deal with it and find something to do to keep you occupied. Otherwise you might go crazy. Some guys do. I’m lucky, I’ve got a TV and Rascal. She helps me pass my time. She doesn’t like lock-down though. She wants to get out of the cell and run around.”

As Trevor’s time at the prison comes to an end he reflects on everything he has seen, saying: “The memory of what I saw and heard here will stay with me for the rest of my life.”


  1. jason on January 24, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    please can someone tell me who performed that track at the end of the show. episode 2 24/01/2013. it was amazing! the show was also amazing,shocking and totally well put together! left you reflecting just as Sir T was.

  2. Mike on January 24, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    I think it’s Tom Waits??

  3. laura on January 24, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Hey jason, the song is called ‘mama you got a daughter’ by john lee hooker (city of agels soundtrack). I still can’t make up my mind now how I feel about the death sentence- what a moral dilemma!

  4. Gloria. Hopkins on January 24, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Can someone tell me the name of the prision used

  5. Avtaar on January 25, 2013 at 1:34 am

    Very very thought provoking.It maked me think about a documentary that I had seen about the links between frontal lobe damage and seriously dangerous prisoners.An american professor had taken ct scans of prisoners and the ct scans showed a very high percentage of prisoners had frontal lobe damage.The findings explained in details the behavoural changes in people who have frontal lobe damage,which I found to be very interesting.

  6. jason on January 25, 2013 at 8:25 am

    hello laura, thanks for that xx

    hi avtaar, i believe it is Indiana state prison

  7. Mike on January 25, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Afraid not, Laura. (it’s not the song you said)
    I was correct.
    It’s Tom Waits.
    The song is called ”no more rain”.
    Hope that helps, Jason.

  8. jason on January 25, 2013 at 8:28 am

    hi mike, just got that, many thanks, sorry laura….

    i did think that “mama you got a daughter” would have been a bit near the mark seeing as the last prisoner interviewed had murdered a mother and daughter,

  9. Mr Kobiyashi on January 30, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    Trevor MacDonald is a wanker and should be on death row himself for the murder of Journalistic integrity. He is a Bounty Uncle Tom and all he is doing is sensationalizing murderers and their crimes (no victims or their families were consulted) who deserve to die through a legal process. Why doesn’t SIR TREVOR report on something that does not feed on the most vulnerable and those who are going to die by lethal injection. how about reporting on why Black People, YOUR PEOPLE are treated like second class citizens? SIR TREVOR cant do that can he because hes too white for his own good.

  10. Linda on January 31, 2013 at 12:05 am

    The music in the episode is 16 maybe less by iron and wine and Calexico….you tube it!

  11. Sandy on February 8, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    I have just watched the second episode and have been very moved by it, so many thanks to Trevor McDonald for this thought provoking documentary.

    i have found the song featured at the end, Otis Tom Waits and called ‘walk away’. It’s featured on the ‘dead man walking’ sound track…rather apt.

  12. Sandy on February 8, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    I meant to type It’s Tom Waits…

  13. jason on February 8, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    thank you sandy! much appreciated

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