The State of Mississippi is preparing to execute Thomas Loden tonight at 6:00pm local time. In 2001 Thomas Loden would plead guilty to the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of sixteen year old Leesa Marie Gray. According to court reports Leesa Marie Gray was sexually assaulted for hours before she was murdered. Thomas Loden has had his execution delayed for several years due to the method of execution in Mississippi which is lethal injection. However even though Thomas Loden is suing the State over the lethal injection protocol the Supreme Court ruled that the execution can go forward.
Thomas Loden Execution More News
Mississippi is set to execute a man Wednesday by lethal injection — the first since November 2021.
Thomas Loden Jr. is scheduled to be put to death at 6 p.m. at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman. Loden pleaded guilty in 2001 to capital murder, rape and four counts of sexual battery for kidnapping and murdering 16-year-old Leesa Gray.
Gray, a waitress, was stranded with a flat tire on the side of an Itawamba County road in June 2000 when Loden pulled the 16-year-old into his van. Loden spent hours raping and sexually assaulting the teenager before suffocating and strangling her to death. He videotaped most of the crime.
Death penalty opponents held a news conference Tuesday outside the Mississippi Capitol to call on Gov. Tate Reeves to grant mercy for 58-year-old Loden. The group said Loden served honorably as a U.S. Marine for 18 years, including combat in Operation Desert Storm.
“Clearly, something in him snapped for him to commit such a horrific crime,” said Mitzi Magleby, a spokesperson for the Mississippi chapter of Ignite Justice. “Mr. Loden was immediately remorseful. When arrested soon after the crime, he had carved the words ‘I’m sorry’ into his chest. Shouldn’t there be room for grace and mercy in such a situation?”
Sheila O’Flaherty, with Mississippians Educating for Smart Justice, is hoping to change the minds of the people in Jackson who support the death penalty.
“Some people do change their minds when they realize how unfair it is, or when they realize that they may be intentionally executing innocent people. I’m not talking about this particular case, or anything and I’m not diminishing the suffering of victims in any way, but people’s minds can be changed.”
Gray’s mother, Wanda Farris, told the Associated Press that she plans to witness Loden’s execution. Farris said her daughter was a happy girl who loved life.
Thomas Loden Execution December 14 2022
Mississippi authorities released details Wednesday about the last wishes of an inmate who was executed for the 2000 rape and slaying of a 16-year-old girl.
Thomas Loden, 58, was condemned to die by lethal injection at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. He had been on death row since 2001, when he pleaded guilty to capital murder, rape and four counts of sexual battery against Leesa Marie Gray.
He was pronounced dead at 6:12 p.m. Loden wore a red prison jumpsuit and was covered by a white sheet during the execution. Brown leather straps held him down on a gurney.
Before the injection started, Loden said he was “deeply remorseful.”
“For the past 20 years, I’ve tried to do a good deed every single day to make up for the life I took from this world,” he said. “If today brings you nothing else, I hope you get peace and closure.”
His last meal included two bone-in fried pork chops, fried okra, a baked sweet potato with butter, Pillsbury Grands biscuits with butter and molasses, peach cobbler with French vanilla ice cream and Lipton sweet tea, the Mississippi Department of Corrections told Fox News Digital.
“He has a full belly because he ate a lot,” MDOC Commissioner Nathan “Burl” Cain, said at a Wednesday news conference. “He liked the okra, he liked the pork chops… I believe he ate every bit of it.”
The meal was served at about 4 p.m., authorities said. Loden requested to see four visitors and a mental health official and was “up and in goods spirits,” Cain said.
“He has expressed some remorse,” Deputy Commissioner of Institutions Jeworski Mallett said. “We spoke with him at 12:45 p.m. and he was remorseful to the family.”
A federal judge last week declined to block Mississippi from carrying out the execution amid a pending lawsuit from Loden and four Mississippi death row inmates over the state’s lethal injection protocol.
During the summer ahead of what should have been Gray’s senior year of high school, she had worked as a waitress at her uncle’s restaurant in northeast Mississippi. On June 22, 2000, she left work after dark and became stranded with a flat tire on a rural road.
Loden, a Marine Corps recruiter with relatives in the area, encountered Gray on the road at about 10:45 p.m. He stopped and began speaking with the teenager about the flat tire. “Don’t worry. I’m a Marine. We do this kind of stuff,” he said.
Loden told investigators he became angry after Gray allegedly said she would never want to be a Marine, and that he ordered her into his van. He spent four hours sexually assaulting her before strangling and suffocating her, according to an interview he gave investigators.