USA: Killer’s last meal and words on death row before execution for murder of teenager

Thomas Edwin Loden Jr

Thomas Edwin Loden Jr. was pronounced dead at 6.12pm local time on Wednesday (Image: AP)

A man who scratched “I’m sorry” into his chest after raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl has been executed.

Thomas Edwin Loden Jr. was executed by lethal injection at 6:12 p.m. yesterday in the US state of Mississippi.

The 58-year-old had been on death row since 2001, when he pleaded guilty to the capital murder, rape and four counts of sexual assault against Leesa Marie Gray.

He was the second prisoner to be executed in the state in 10 years amid growing calls for the abolition of the death penalty.

Leesa’s mother, Wanda Farris, attended the execution at Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman.

Before the injection began, Loden said he was “deeply remorseful.”

“For the past 20 years, I’ve tried to do one good deed every single day to redeem the life I’ve taken from this world,” he said.

Wanda Farris, Leesa Gray's mother, is surrounded by supporters as she exits Jackson Federal Courthouse

Wanda Farris, Leesa Gray’s mother, is surrounded by supporters as she leaves federal courthouse in Jackson (Image: AP)

“I know these are just words and cannot erase the damage I have done. If nothing else brings you today, I hope you get peace and closure.’

Leesa had worked as a waitress at her uncle’s restaurant the summer before her senior year of high school.

One night in June 2000, after leaving work, she was stranded with a flat tire when approached by a Marine Corps recruiter.

He said to her, “Don’t worry. I am a Marine. We do stuff like that.’

Loden then forced the teenager into his van, where he sexually abused her for four hours before strangling and smothering her.

According to court records, he was discovered the following afternoon lying on the side of the road with the words “I’m sorry” engraved on his chest.

After pleading guilty in September 2001, Loden told the victim’s family during his sentencing hearing, “I hope you have some degree of justice in walking out of here today.”

His attorney, Mark McDonald, said in a statement that the poisoner hoped his execution would be the last in the country.

Mississippi Justice Department Commissioner Burl Cain said yesterday: “Loden has expressed his grief. But he was quite optimistic and he ate robust.’

His last meal consisted of two roast bone-in pork chops, sweet potatoes and peach cobbler with ice cream.

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Justin Scacco

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