Loden’s capital murder appeal denied

Court NewsBy JB Clark

Daily Journal

OXFORD – A death row inmate’s request for a federal judge to hear his appeal was denied by Senior U.S. District Judge Neal B. Biggers on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi.

Attorneys for Thomas Edwin Loden Jr., 48, of Vicksburg, who was convicted for capital murder, rape and sexual battery in 2001, filed a motion seeking an evidentiary hearing before Biggers in January.

He was convicted after kidnapping 16-year-old Leesa Marie Gray on June 22, 2000, and videotaping her gruesome rape and murder by his hands at his family farm in the Dorsey community of Itawamba County.

The motions said Loden’s case should be considered for many reasons, including trial counsel’s alleged failure to fully investigate Loden’s mental condition as a factor in the death sentence. They also claimed poor advice from trial counsel led Loden to plead guilty and waive jury sentencing. The motion also says the Mississippi Supreme Court was wrong in denying his appeals without a hearing.

Biggers dismissed the petition and denied an evidentiary hearing. In his denial, Biggers granted a certificate of appealability to Loden on five grounds listed in his initial appeal.

Loden can appeal the ineffective assistance of his counsel, his guilty plea an waiver of jury sentencing, the defense counsel’s litigation of the case, his trial counsel’s performance and his appellate counsel’s performance.

Any appeal on those five grounds will be before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

jb.clark@journalinc.com