Mississippi  Department of  Corrections

Rick McCarty  

Phil Bryant

Interim Commissioner   

 Governor  

 

 

 

Mississippi and the Death Penalty

 

Mississippi and the Death Penalty

Since Mississippi joined the Union in 1817, several forms of execution have been used. Hanging was the first form of execution used in Mississippi. The state continued to execute prisoners sentenced to die by hanging until October 11, 1940, when Hilton Fortenberry, convicted of capital murder in Jefferson Davis County, became the first prisoner to be executed in the electric chair.  Between 1940 and February 5, 1952, the old oak electric chair was moved from county to county to conduct executions.  During the 12-year span, 75 prisoners were executed in the Magnolia State for offenses punishable by death.

In 1954, the gas chamber was installed at the Mississippi State Penitentiary.  It replaced the electric chair, which today is on display at the Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Academy.  Gearald A. Gallego became the first prisoner to be executed by lethal gas on March 3, 1955.  During the course of the next 34 years, 35 death row inmates were executed in the gas chamber.  Leo Edwards became the last person to be executed in the gas chamber at the Mississippi State Penitentiary on June 21, 1989.

On July 1, 1984, the Mississippi legislature partially amended lethal gas as the state’s form of execution in §§ 99-19-51 of the Mississippi Code.  The new amendment provided that individuals who committed capital punishment crimes after the effective date of the new law and who were subsequently sentenced to death thereafter would be executed by lethal injection.  On March 18, 1998, the Mississippi legislature amended the manner of execution by finally removing the provision lethal gas as the alternate form of execution.

 

PRISONERS EXECUTED IN THE MISSISSIPPI GAS CHAMBER

 

Name

Race-Sex

Offense

Date Executed

Gerald A. Gallego

White Male

Murder

03-03-55

Allen Donaldson

Black Male

Armed Robbery

03-04-55

August  Lafontaine

White Male

Murder

04-28-55

John E. Wiggins

White Male

Murder

06-20-55

Mack C. Lewis

Black Male

Murder

06-23-55

Walter Johnson

Black Male

Rape

08-19-55

Murray G. Gilmore

White Male

Murder

12-09-55

Mose Robinson

Black Male

Rape

12-16-55

Robert Buchanan

Black Male

Rape

01-03-56

Edgar Keeler

Black Male

Murder

01-27-56

O.C. McNair

Black Male

Murder

02-17-56

James Russell

Black Male

Murder

04-05-56

Dewey Towsel

Black Male

Murder

06-22-56

Willie Jones

Black Male

Murder

07-13-56

Mack Drake

Black Male

Rape

11-07-56

Henry Jackson

Black Male

Murder

11-08-56

 

 

Name

Race-Sex

Offense

Date Executed

Minor Sorber

White Male

Murder

02-08-57

Joe L. Thompson

Black Male

Murder

11-14-57

William A. Wetzell

White Male

Murder

01-17-58

J.C. Cameron

Black Male

Rape

05-28-58

Allen Dean, Jr.

Black Male

Murder

12-19-58

Nathaniel Young

Black Male

Rape

11-10-60

William Stokes

Black Male

Murder

04-21-61

Robert L. Goldsby

Black Male

Murder

05-31-61

J.W. Simmons

Black Male

Murder

07-14-61

Howard Cook

Black Male

Rape

12-19-61

Ellic Lee

Black Male

Rape

12-20-61

Willie Wilson

Black Male

Rape

05-11-62

Kenneth Slyter

White Male

Murder

03-29-63

Willie J. Anderson

Black Male

Murder

06-14-63

Tim Jackson

Black Male

Murder

05-01-64

Jimmy Lee Gray

White Male

Murder

09-02-83

Edward E. Johnson

Black Male

Murder

05-20-87

Connie Ray Evans

Black Male

Murder

07-08-87

Leo Edwards

Black Male

Murder

06-21-89

 

PRISONERS EXECUTED BY LETHAL INJECTION

Name

Race-Sex

Offense

Date Executed

Tracy Alan Hansen

White Male

Capital Murder

07-17-02

Jessie Derrell Williams

White Male

Capital Murder

12-11-02

John B. Nixon, Sr.

White Male

Capital Murder

12-14-05

Bobby G. Wilcher

White Male

Capital Murder x 2

10-18-06

        Earl W. Berry

White Male

Capital Murder

 

           05-21-08

Dale L. Bishop

 

White Male

 

Capital Murder

07-23-08

Paul E. Woodward

 

White Male

Capital Murder

 

05-19-10

 

Gerald J. Holland

White Male

Capital Murder

 

05-20-10

 

Joseph D. Burns

White Male

 

Capital Murder

 

07-21-10

Benny Joe Stevens

White Male

Capital Murder x 4

05-10-11

Rodney Gray

 

Black Male

 

Capital Murder

05-17-11

 

Edwin Hart Turner

 

White Male

 

Capital Murder

02-08-12

 

Larry Matthew Puckett

White Male

 

Capital Murder

 

03-20-12

 

 William J Mitchell

Black Male

 

Capital Murder

03-22-12

Henry Curtis Jackson Black Male Capital Murder x 4

06-05-12

Jan Michael Brawner

 

White Male

 

Capital Murder x 4

06-12-12

 

Gary Carl Simmons

 

White Male

 

Capital Murder

 

06-20-12