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Larry Matthew Puckett Executed

By Daniel Cherry | Published 21 Mar 2012 12:21pm | comments

The man convicted of sexually assaulting and beating a Forest County woman to death in 1995 has been executed. Larry Matthew Puckett died last night by lethal injection at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman. MPB’s Daniel Cherry witnessed the execution and has this report.

"The State of Mississippi Department of Corrections has carried out a court order that was issued by the state Supreme Court. Ladies and Gentlemen, the cause of justice has been championed."

That's Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps speaking directly after the execution of Larry Matthew Puckett. Puckett was convicted of sexually assaulting and brutally murdering Rhonda Hatten Griffis. Griffis, a 28 year old mother of two, was clubbed to death in October of 1995. Epps says Puckett maintained his innocence even until his death, and declined making any last statement.

"I asked did he want to change his statement about the crime, and he said no. He denied. So I guess he went to his grave denying."

Shortly before his execution, Puckett was strapped on the gurney wearing a standard red jumpsuit, white sneakers, and thick glasses. He stared at the ceiling until the drugs rushed into his body. His eyes shut, he took several deep breaths, exhaled deeply, and at 6:18 was declared dead.

In recent days, Puckett supporters had protested his death sentence, questioning his guilt in the crime. But Rhonda Hatten Griffis' mother, Nancy Hatten says she has no doubt.

"You might ask, 'How do you know for a fact?' I happened to be there. Rhonda and I were the only two people at home when Matt decided to come into her home."

Hatten says she caught Puckett in the act, and he then she barely escaped being killed herself. She says Puckett's execution is a start, but it can never bring her daughter back.

"She was loved by her family, and we will forever miss her. Nothing will ever fill that void. It will always be in our lives. There will be closure to this on the side of justice, but there will never be closure for us for our daughter's part of our lives."

Another Mississippi death row inmate, William Mitchell, is scheduled to be executed on Thursday.

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