Jimmy Lee Gray
Jimmy Lee Gray (1949 – September 2, 1983) was convicted for the murder of three-year-old Deressa Jean Scales in 1976, after kidnapping and anally raping her. At the time of this murder, he was free on parole following a conviction in Arizona for the murder of a 16-year-old girl.
Dan Lohwasser, a reporter for United Press International, was one of the observers who witnessed Gray's execution. Lohwasser's account of Gray's death sparked a controversy, because of its violent nature. At the time of Gray's execution, the gas chamber used in Mississippi had a vertical iron bar directly behind the inmate's chair. There was no headrest or strap used to restrain Gray's head. As Gray began breathing in the toxic gas, he started thrashing his head around, striking the iron bar repeatedly before he finally lost consciousness. Officials decided to clear the observation room eight minutes after the gas had been released, because of Gray's injuries. The decision to clear the room was sharply criticized by Dennis Balske, Gray's attorney. "Jimmy Lee Gray died banging his head against a steel pole in the gas chamber while reporters counted his moans (eleven, according to the Associated Press)".
In part because Gray's execution by lethal gas was botched in this instance, Mississippi passed legislation making lethal injection the sole method of execution for inmates sentenced after 1 July 1984, though three more inmates (Edward Earl Johnson, Connie Evans and Leo Edwards) sentenced before this date were still executed by lethal gas. Mississippi's gas chamber was decommissioned in 1998.
- Killer Of 3-Year-Old Mississippi Girl Executed After Justices Reject Plea. The New York Times (1983-09-02). Retrieved on 2007-11-12.
- U.S. Executions Since 1976. The Clark County Prosecuting Attorney. Retrieved on 2007-11-12.
- "Might we make executions more civilized, please?" from CBC News
- Mississippi and the Death Penalty. Mississippi Department of Corrections. Retrieved on 2007-11-12.
- Stay Of Execution Is Continued. The New York Times (1983-07-07). Retrieved on 2007-11-12.
- Lee, Robert W. Cruel and Unusual Leniency at the Wayback Machine (archived January 20, 2008). The New American (1990-08-13). Retrieved on 2007-11-12.
- Radelet, Michael L. Some Examples of Post-Furman Botched Executions. Death Penalty Information Center (2007-05-24). Retrieved on 2007-11-12.
- Gray v. Lucas, 463 U.S. 1237 (1983). Retrieved on 2007-11-12.
- Cabana, Donald. "Death at Midnight: The Confession of an Executioner. (Northeastern University Press, 1996), p. 7-8.
John Louis Evans
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