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Mississippi Executes The Second Inmate This Month

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 17 May 2011 04:07pm | comments
Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps

A man convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering a 79-year old woman is dead. Mississippi executed Rodney Gray Tuesday night. MPB’s Jeffrey Hess reports from the state penitentiary in Parchman.

Rodney Gray was 23-years old when he was convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering 79-year old Grace Blackwell of Loutin.

A Newton County jury sentenced him to death in 1996, and 15 years later the state executed him by lethal injection.
Department of Corrections commissioner Chris Epps says Gray proclaimed his innocence right up until the execution, despite significant evidence against him.

“(From) blood in his tee-shirt, to glass in his tee-shirt, to his footwear and foot prints, and the boots behind his girlfriend’s house. We talked about what the other inmates said that was in jail about what he said. But everybody else is wrong in his opinion and Rodney Gray is right,” Epps said.

Gray was visited by his mother during the day but did not have any family or friends witness his execution.

Gray tapped foot his anxiously while strapped to the gurney waiting for the execution to start.

He did not make any final statements.

Gray gave three last deep breaths fighting the anesthetic drug before his movement and his foot tapping stopped.

Gray was declared dead at 6:12 pm.

The victim’s son in law and granddaughter watched Gray’s execution without reaction.

Following the execution, Adam Lee with MDOC Victims Services read a statement from the family of the victim.

“Although we will never regain what we have lost or fully heal from the pain and suffering inflicted on our family, we will take some comfort in the knowledge that no one else will come to harm at the hands of Rodney Gray,” Lee said.

A handful of protestors held a vigil outside the prison protesting the death penalty.

Gray was the second of three planned executions this month.

The third is set for next Tuesday at the prison in Parchman.


Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps



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