Mississippi Sets Execution Date For 21-year-old Prisoner On Death Row

A convict who has spent 21 years on death row in Mississippi has been scheduled for execution after his appeals and legal objections were denied.

The Mississippi Supreme Court decided on Thursday to grant the state’s motion in the case of Thomas Edwin Loden Jr., a former U.S. Marine Corps recruiter who was found guilty of raping and killing a 16-year-old waitress in 2000. Dec. 14 at 6 p.m., or as soon as feasible within 24 hours after that time, Loden will be executed.

According to Chief Justice Michael Randolph’s ruling, “after considerable review, the court concludes that Loden has exhausted all state and federal remedies for purposes of setting an execution date under Mississippi Code.” The court concludes that the state’s request for a date for execution should be granted as a result.

The decision was made after the Mississippi attorney general’s office on October 4 requested that the court set a date for Loden’s execution.

Stacy Ferraro, Loden’s lawyer, objected, claiming that her client had not used all available options to try to prevent being executed.

Along with other death row inmates, Loden is a party to an ongoing federal case that challenges the state’s lethal injection procedure. Mississippi updated the procedure to permit the administration of midazolam in the absence of thiopental or pentobarbital.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a federal district judge’s decision to enjoin the state from using compounded pentobarbital or midazolam. The matter is still pending in the district court.

The legal challenge that is pending, according to the state attorney general’s office, “is not a barrier to setting Loden’s execution.” Ferraro said that setting a date while the challenge was still pending would be “inappropriate.”

An inquiry for comment made on Thursday did not receive a prompt response from Ferraro.

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Since 2001, when Loden, now 58, entered a guilty plea to four counts of sexual abuse, rape, and capital murder, he has been waiting for his execution. Leesa Marie Gray, who was abandoned on the side of the road in Itawamba County, northern Mississippi, on June 22, 2000, was taken by Loden, according to court records. According to the affidavits, Loden raped and sexually assaulted Gray for four hours before strangling and choking her to death.

Loden enlisted in the Marines right away after completing his high school education in Itawamba County in 1982. He attended recruiter training in 1998 after serving in Operation Desert Storm. Later that year, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Loden took over management of the Marine Corps’ recruitment office.

Loden appealed his conviction on multiple occasions, but they were all rejected.

November saw the most recent execution in Mississippi. In nine years, it was the state’s first.

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