Court rejects appeal by killer Loden

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 16, 2010

A post-conviction petition from death row inmate and former Vicksburg resident Thomas E. Loden Jr. has been rejected by the Mississippi Supreme Court.

The court ruled Loden had not raised any constitutional issues or provided new evidence to support a new trial.

Loden was sentenced to death in 2001 for killing 16-year-old Leesa Gray. He was also sentenced to 30 years on kidnapping and rape counts.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

In 2000, Loden and his wife and daughter were living on Markham Street. The 18-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps was working as a recruiter at what was then Sack ’N Save Plaza. He was visiting relatives in the Dorsey community in Itawamba County at the time of the killing.

Gray disappeared on her way home from work as a waitress at her family’s restaurant. Court documents say she was found dead of strangulation the next day in Loden’s van.

Following his arrest, Loden was indicted for capital murder, rape and four counts of sexual battery. On Sept. 21, 2001, he waived his right to a jury trial and pleaded guilty to all counts.

Loden previously had appealed his conviction in 2007, claiming he’d received inadequate advice from his attorney. That appeal, which also went to the state Supreme Court, was denied.