November 17, 2022

Execution date set for Thomas Edward Loden, convicted in 2000 murder of Itawamba teen

Therese Apel

Thomas Edwin Loden

A Dec. 14 execution date has been returned by the Mississippi State Supreme Court for Thomas Edward Loden, a Marine Corps veteran convicted in the 2000 death of 16-year-old Leesa Marie Gray.

Loden killed Gray after finding her stranded on the side of the road. For four hours, he repeated raped and assaulted Leesa before suffocating and manually strangling her, recording some of the process. Loden was indicted for capital murder, rape, and four counts of sexual battery.

Court records show Loden waived his right to a jury and pleaded guilty to the six charges. His defense also waived cross-examination of the state’s witnesses, objection to the state’s evidence, and offered no mitigation evidence.

The court sentenced him to death, stating “that sufficient aggravating circumstances existed, and that the mitigating circumstances do not outweigh the aggravating circumstances and that the death penalty should be imposed.”

He was also given five 30 year sentences: one for rape and the other four for sexual battery.

Loden’s death is set to occur at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022.

David Neal Cox was the last person executed in the state of Mississippi on Nov. 17. Cox was executed by lethal injection at Parchman in the murder of his wife, Kim Cox. He shot her and raped her daughter in front of her as she died during an eight hour standoff with police.

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