Mississippi Readies for 1st Execution Since 2012 After Inmate Wins Right to Waive Appeals

Mississippi is preparing to carry out its first execution since 2012 after the inmate scheduled to be put to death won the right to waive his appeals, the Associated Press reported.

David Neal Cox's lethal injection will take place on November 17, and prison employees are conducting once-a-week rehearsals in preparation, according to Corrections Commissioner Burl Cain.

Cox, 50, pleaded guilty in 2012 to killing his wife, Kim, in 2010 in the northern Mississippi town of Sherman. Union County Circuit Court Judge Kent Smith ruled in April that Cox was adequately mentally sound to waive his appeals. Though the Mississippi Office of Capital Post-Conviction Counsel appealed Smith's decision, Mississippi Supreme Court justices denied the appeal and affirmed the judge's ruling.

Cox had written to the state Supreme Court's chief justice in 2018 saying that he wanted to fire his lawyers, rescind all appeals and have his execution date set. In November of 2018, Cox also filed court papers in which he asserted that "I am worthy of death," according to AP.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Mississippi Inmate Faces Execution
Mississippi is preparing to carry out its first execution since 2012 after David Neal Cox won the right to waive his appeals in April. This undated photo provided by the Mississippi Department of Corrections shows Cox. Mississippi Department of Corrections via AP

Cain told AP on Friday that the rehearsals for a lethal injection are usually done once a month at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, following a protocol that's about 20 pages long.

"Very, very detailed," Cain said.

Mississippi has not had an execution since 2012, and it had six that year. Cain confirmed that Mississippi has obtained lethal injection drugs, but he declined to say how.

"I'm not supposed to talk about the drugs too much," Cain said.

Mississippi is still facing a lawsuit filed in 2015 by the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center on behalf of two inmates. The suit argues that Mississippi's lethal injection protocol is inhumane.

Several states have had trouble finding drugs for lethal injections in recent years since pharmaceutical companies in the United States and Europe began blocking the use of their drugs for executions.

According to court papers, Cox shot his wife twice and then sexually assaulted his stepdaughter in front of a dying Kim Cox while police negotiators and relatives pleaded for her life. He pleaded guilty to sexual battery, kidnapping and other crimes without making a bargain with prosecutors that precluded the death penalty. A jury sentenced him to death.

Justices had ordered the circuit judge to hold a competency hearing. Attorneys representing Cox argued he was mentally ill and not competent to waive his appeals. They also argued it would be unconstitutional for the state to execute him.

Mississippi Prepares for Execution
David Neal Cox’s lethal injection is scheduled to take place on November 17, and Mississippi prison employees are conducting weekly rehearsals in preparation, according to Corrections Commissioner Burl Cain. Above, Cain delivers his agency's budget request before a meeting of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee in Jackson on September 24, 2021. Rogelio V. Solis/AP Photo