Mississippi executes man for rape, murder of teen girl

Thomas Edwin Loden Jr
FILE - This May 25, 2022, photo released by the Mississippi Department of Corrections shows Thomas Edwin Loden Jr., who is set to receive a lethal injection at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Miss., on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. (Mississippi Department of Corrections via AP, File)

Associated Press/Report for America

PARCHMAN, Miss. (AP) – A Mississippi man has been put to death by lethal injection for the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl more than two decades ago.

Officials say 58-year-old Thomas Edwin Loden Jr. was pronounced dead at 6:12 p.m. Wednesday. He is the second inmate executed in Mississippi in 10 years.

Loden 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. She was stranded with a flat tire in June 2000 when Loden forced her into his van. Loden was one of five death row inmates suing Mississippi over its lethal injection protocol.

A federal judge declined to block the execution, even though the lawsuit was still pending.