Mississippi’s attorney general seeking to set execution date for man who killed teen in 2000

JACKSON, Miss. — The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office is seeking to set an execution date for a man who has been convicted of killing a teenager in 2000 and has been on death row since 2001.

>> Read more trending news

According to The Associated Press, Thomas Edwin Loden Jr., 58, has been on death row for over ten years after pleading guilty to capital murder, rape and four counts of sexual battery.

Documents were filed Tuesday by the attorney general with the Mississippi Supreme Court. according to the AP.

Loden kidnapped Leesa Marie Gray, who was left stranded on the side of a road in northern Mississippi. According to court records obtained by the AP, Loden spent four hours raping and sexually battering Gray repeatedly before he suffocated and strangled her.

According to the AP, Gray had disappeared on her way home from work at her family’s restaurant on June 22, 2000. She was last seen driving out of the parking lot. Her car was found hours later with her purse in it and the hazard lights on.

According to court records obtained by the AP, Gray’s body was found on June 23, 2000, in Loden’s van.

Loden was part of the U.S. Marine Corps after high school in 1982. He had served in Operation Desert Storm and became a recruiter in 1998, according to the AP. Two years later in 2000, Loden began operating the recruiting office in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Loden plead guilty during his trial and has filed multiple appeals since, according to the AP. The appeals were unsuccessful.

According to the AP, Loden was part of a federal lawsuit with other death row inmates in 2015 that challenged the lethal injection protocol which Mississippi revised. A federal district judge allowed an injunction to prevent the state from using “compounded pentobarbital or midazolam,” but that was later appealed and the ruling was reversed. The Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday said that the ongoing case about the lethal injection protocol was not a factor in setting Loden’s execution date, according to the AP.

The most recent execution took place in November in Mississippi, according to the AP. It was the first one in nine years.