Judge in Mississippi to allow execution despite suit over drugs

JACKSON, Miss. — A federal judge has ruled that he will not block Mississippi from carrying out next week’s execution of an inmate who is suing the state over its use of three drugs for lethal injections.

Thomas Edwin Loden Jr., 58, faces execution next Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate handed down a ruling late Wednesday, saying the execution can happen even while the lawsuit is pending.

Loden has been on death row since 2001, when he pleaded guilty to capital murder, rape and four counts of sexual battery against a 16-year-old girl.

Attorneys for the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center sued the Mississippi prison system on behalf of two death row inmates in 2015, saying the state’s lethal injection protocol is inhumane. Loden and two other Mississippi death row inmates later joined as plaintiffs.

Mississippi carried out its most recent execution in November 2021, and that was the state’s first in nine years.

The Mississippi Department of Corrections revealed in court papers in July 2021 that it had acquired three drugs for the lethal injection protocol: midazolam, which is a sedative; vecuronium bromide, which paralyzes the muscles; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

Corrections Commissioner Burl Cain said the drugs listed in the court records were the ones used for the execution in 2021. He would not say where the department obtained them. Cain said in a sworn statement Nov. 30 that the state has sufficient quantities of the three drugs for another execution.

Mississippi and several other states have had trouble finding drugs for lethal injections in recent years since pharmaceutical companies in the United States and Europe began blocking the use of their drugs for executions.

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