Mississippi death row inmate dines on pork chops, biscuits in last meal before execution

Mississippi corrections officials said Thomas Loden ate all the food and had been in 'good spirits'

Mississippi authorities released details Wednesday about the last wishes of an inmate who was executed for the 2000 rape and slaying of a 16-year-old girl. 

Thomas Loden, 58, was condemned to die by lethal injection at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. He 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.

He was pronounced dead at 6:12 p.m. Loden wore a red prison jumpsuit and was covered by a white sheet during the execution. Brown leather straps held him down on a gurney.

Before the injection started, Loden said he was "deeply remorseful."

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Thomas Edwin Loden Jr., died by lethal injection at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Miss., on Wednesday. He had been on death row since 2001, when he pleaded guilty to capital murder, rape and four counts of sexual battery against 16-year-old Leesa Marie Gray.

Thomas Edwin Loden Jr., died by lethal injection at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Miss., on Wednesday. He had been on death row since 2001, when he pleaded guilty to capital murder, rape and four counts of sexual battery against 16-year-old Leesa Marie Gray. (Mississippi Department of Corrections via AP, File)

"For the past 20 years, I’ve tried to do a good deed every single day to make up for the life I took from this world," he said. "If today brings you nothing else, I hope you get peace and closure."

His last meal included two bone-in fried pork chops, fried okra, a baked sweet potato with butter, Pillsbury Grands biscuits with butter and molasses, peach cobbler with French vanilla ice cream and Lipton sweet tea, the Mississippi Department of Corrections told Fox News Digital. 

"He has a full belly because he ate a lot," MDOC Commissioner Nathan "Burl" Cain, said at a Wednesday news conference. "He liked the okra, he liked the pork chops… I believe he ate every bit of it."

The meal was served at about 4 p.m., authorities said. Loden requested to see four visitors and a mental health official and was "up and in goods spirits," Cain said. 

"He has expressed some remorse," Deputy Commissioner of Institutions Jeworski Mallett said. "We spoke with him at 12:45 p.m. and he was remorseful to the family."

A federal judge last week declined to block Mississippi from carrying out the execution amid a pending lawsuit from Loden and four Mississippi death row inmates over the state’s lethal injection protocol. 

The front gate of the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Mississippi.

The front gate of the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Mississippi. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

During the summer ahead of what should have been Gray's senior year of high school, she had worked as a waitress at her uncle’s restaurant in northeast Mississippi. On June 22, 2000, she left work after dark and became stranded with a flat tire on a rural road.

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Loden, a Marine Corps recruiter with relatives in the area, encountered Gray on the road at about 10:45 p.m. He stopped and began speaking with the teenager about the flat tire. "Don’t worry. I’m a Marine. We do this kind of stuff," he said.

Loden told investigators he became angry after Gray allegedly said she would never want to be a Marine, and that he ordered her into his van. He spent four hours sexually assaulting her before strangling and suffocating her, according to an interview he gave investigators.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.