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Federal judge denies Loden’s request to dismiss state’s execution date

Thomas Loden
Photo courtesy of MDOC

U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate has denied Thomas Loden, Jr.’s request to prevent the state of Mississippi from proceeding with his scheduled execution.

Loden, who’s been on death row since 2001, was found guilty of capital murder, rape, and four counts of sexual battery for kidnapping, repeatedly raping, and strangling 16-year-old Leesa Marie Gray to death after discovering her stranded on the side of the road. He pled guilty to all six charges and waived his right to a trial by jury.

The inmate’s attorneys have since sought to have his execution dismissed by challenging the constitutionality of Mississippi’s three-drug lethal injection protocol, accusing it of being a form of “cruel and unusual” punishment — a violation of the Eighth Amendment if the U.S. Constitution.

Meanwhile, defendants argued that the state’s method of execution would not violate any of Loden’s constitutional rights. Loden has also unsuccessfully attempted to have his sentence overturned by the Mississippi Supreme Court on numerous occasions. Therefore, defendants claim that all state and federal remedies have been exhausted in this case — a justification to put it to an end.

Judge Wingate wrote the following to conclude his ruling on the case:

If this court were to rule that the lethal injection mode is unconstitutional, Mississippi could still resort to his execution under one of three alternative modes of execution, which chosen procedure would surely be attacked in a new lawsuit. Loden, however, cannot convincingly argue that his involvement in this lawsuit has somehow expanded his rights and provided him a shield against execution. He has exhausted all his state and federal appellate rights This court has applied the factors for injunctive relief to Plaintiffs’ arguments and has found that Plaintiffs’ arguments fail to satisfy those standards. They have not shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits. They have overlooked the State’s interest in enforcing its laws. Thus, Plaintiffs have failed in their obligation to prevail on all four of the injunction standards.”

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