A man convicted of raping and killing a 16-year-old girl was put to death by lethal injection in Mississippi on Wednesday.Executed by the state in 10 years.
A coroner declared Thomas Edwin Lowden Jr., 58, dead at 6:12 p.m. at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman. The manner of death was the subject of a last-ditch effort to stop Loden’s execution.
He has been on death row since 2001, when he pleaded guilty to four counts of capital murder, rape and sexual battery against Lisa Marie Gray. Earlier this month, a federal judge refused to block Mississippi’s execution amid the pending trial of Loden and four Mississippi death row inmates over the state’s lethal injection protocol. Mississippi’s most recent execution was in November 2021.
Loden wore a red prison jumpsuit and was covered with a white sheet during his execution. Brown leather straps held him to a gurney.
Before the indictment began, Loden said he was “deeply remorseful”.
“For the past 20 years, I have tried to do one good deed every day for the life I have taken from this world,” Loden said. “If today brings you nothing else, I hope you find peace and closure.”
Authorities said he ended his last words by saying “I love you” in Japanese.
During the summer of what should have been Gray’s senior year of high school, she worked as a waitress at her uncle’s restaurant in Northeast Mississippi. On June 22, 2000, she left work after dark and got stuck on a rural road with a punctured tyre.
Loden, a Marine Corps recruiter with relatives in the area, encountered Gray on the street around 10:45 p.m. He stopped and started talking to Kishore about the flat tyre. “Don’t worry. I’m a Marine. We do stuff like this,” he said.
Loden told investigators that after Gray allegedly told her that she would never want to be a Marine, he became angry and ordered her to get into his van. He sexually assaulted her for four hours before strangling and suffocating her, according to an interview she gave to investigators.
Court records show that on the afternoon of June 23, 2000, “Louden was discovered lying on the side of a road with the words ‘I’m sorry’ carved across his chest and clearly on his wrists”. There were injuries.”
After being convicted in September 2001, Lowden told Gray’s friends and family during sentencing: “I hope you have some sense of justice when you leave here today.”
Gray’s mother, Wanda Farris, described her daughter as a “happy, always smiling” teenager who aspired to become an elementary school teacher.
“She wasn’t perfect, now, mind you,” Farris said. “But he tried to do right.”
Farris had planned to attend the execution on Wednesday.
In 2015, attorneys for the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center sued the Mississippi prison system on behalf of two death row inmates, saying the state’s lethal injection protocol is inhumane. Lowden and two other Mississippi death row inmates later joined as prosecutors.
The Mississippi Department of Corrections disclosed in court papers in July 2021 that it had acquired three drugs for its lethal injection protocol: midazolam, which is a sedative; vecuronium bromide, which paralyzes muscles; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.
Jim Craig, a lawyer for the MacArthur Center, said during a November court hearing that since 2019 only Alabama, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Tennessee have carried out executions using the three-drug protocol.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 27 states have the death penalty. Craig said that most death penalty states and the federal government used a three-drug protocol in 2008, but the federal government and most of those states have since moved to using one drug.
In November, Alabama Gov. k evein execution after a series of lethal injections failed and ordered a “top-to-bottom” review of the state’s capital punishment system. Jaworsky Mallett, deputy commissioner of institutions for the Department of Corrections, told reporters that Mississippi has “mock executions and drills” on a monthly basis to avoid wrongful convictions.
A week before Loden’s scheduled execution, US District Judge Henry Wingate issued a ruling that the execution could take place while the trial was pending. He wrote that the US Supreme Court upheld the three-drug lethal injection protocol as recently as seven years ago in a case in Oklahoma.
36 inmates are on death row in Mississippi. Death Penalty Action, a group opposing the death penalty, held a news conference Tuesday in front of the state capitol in Jackson to voice its opposition to Loden’s execution.
“Clearly, something inside of him snapped to commit such a terrible crime,” said Mitzi Maggleby, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi chapter of the criminal justice reform advocacy organization Ignite Justice. “Mr. Lowden was immediately remorseful. Shouldn’t there be room for grace and mercy in a situation like this?”
Farris told the AP on Friday that she had forgiven Lowden years ago, but she did not believe his apology.
“I don’t particularly want to see anybody die,” Farris said. “But I believe in capital punishment… I believe in justice.”