The second prisoner to be put to death by lethal injection in Mississippi in the past ten years was a man who admitted to raping and killing a 16-year-old girl.
Thomas Edwin Loden Jr., 58, was pronounced dead by a coroner at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman at 6:12 p.m. Loden’s final attempt to stop the execution had focused on the method of death.
Since admitting guilt to murder, rape, and four counts of sexual abuse against Leesa Marie Gray in 2001, he has been awaiting execution. In light of Loden and four other death row convicts in Mississippi’s ongoing lawsuit challenging the state’s lethal injection procedure, a federal judge earlier this month declined to stop Mississippi from carrying out the execution.
The most recent execution in Mississippi took place in November 2021.
Throughout his execution, Loden was wrapped in a white sheet and wore a red prison jumpsuit. He was restrained on a gurney with brown leather straps.
Loden declared he was “very regretful” prior to the injection.
The execution of Thomas Edwin Loden has been carried out by lethal injection at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman. Death was pronounced at 6:12PM local time. The execution occurred without incident.
— Pro-Death Penalty (@_Death_Watch) December 15, 2022
To atone for the life I took from this earth, Loden stated, “I’ve attempted to do a good deed every single day for the past 20 years.” “I hope you find serenity and resolution today if nothing else.”
He ended his final sentence by stating “I love you” in Japanese, according to officials.
Gray had worked as a server at her uncle’s restaurant in northeast Mississippi during the summer before what should have been her senior year of high school. She left work after hours on June 22, 2000, and soon found herself trapped on a country road with a flat tire.
Around 10:45 p.m., Loden, a Marine Corps recruiter with relatives living nearby, came across Gray on the road. He halted and started a conversation with the teen about the flat tire. “Not to worry. As a Marine, I. We carry out this kind of work, “added said.
When Gray allegedly responded she would never want to join a Marine, Loden said he lost his cool and instructed her to get in his van. According to an interview he provided investigators, he spent four hours sexually assaulting her before strangling and smothering her.
According to court documents, Loden was “found laying by the side of a road with the words ‘I’m sorry’ cut into his chest and apparent self-inflicted lacerations on his wrists” on the afternoon of June 23, 2000.
When Loden was sentenced in September 2001 after entering a guilty plea, he said to Gray’s friends and family, “I hope you may have some sense of justice when you leave here today.”
Gray’s mother, Wanda Farris, described her as a “happy-go-lucky, usually smiling” teenager with aspirations of teaching elementary school.
Mind you, she wasn’t perfect, Farris added. But she tried to act morally.
Farris was going to the execution on Wednesday.
On behalf of two death row inmates, attorneys with the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center filed a lawsuit against the Mississippi prison system in 2015, claiming the state’s lethal injection process is cruel. Later, Loden and two additional Mississippi convicts on execution row joined as plaintiffs.
In July 2021, the Mississippi Department of Corrections disclosed in court documents that it had purchased three medications for its fatal injection protocol: the sedative midazolam, the muscle-paralyzing chemical vecuronium bromide, and the heart-stopping potassium chloride.
Only Alabama, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Tennessee have carried out executions using a three-drug protocol since 2019, according to Jim Craig, a MacArthur Center attorney, who stated this during a court hearing in November.