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Mississippi executes former Marine for 2000 rape and murder

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Thomas Edwin Loden, 58, a former US Marine who confessed to raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl in 2000, was executed by lethal injection in Mississippi December 14, 2022./AFP
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Dec 15, 2022 - 05:44 AM

WASHINGTON — A former US Marine who confessed to raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl was executed Wednesday in the southern US state of Mississippi.

Thomas Edwin Loden, 58, was pronounced dead at 6:12 pm (0012 GMT) after he was administered a lethal injection at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, the Mississippi Department of Corrections said in a statement.

Loden pleaded guilty to the June 2000 kidnapping of Leesa Gray, who had been stranded on the side of a rural road after her car had a flat tire.

Loden, a gunnery sergeant and recruiter for the US Marine Corps, confessed to repeatedly raping Gray in his van before suffocating and strangling her.

He was discovered the next day lying by the side of the road with the words “I’m sorry” which he had carved into his chest, according to court records.

Loden was sentenced to death in 2001. He is the first person executed in Mississippi this year and the second since 2013.

It was the 18th execution in the United States this year.

About half of the 50 US states allow capital punishment but before Wednesday had only been used in five states so far in 2022 — Alabama, Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. Loden’s execution makes Mississippi the sixth.

On Tuesday, Kate Brown, the governor of Oregon, commuted the sentences of the 17 inmates on Death Row in the northwestern state to life in prison.

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