Governor Phil Bryant Commissioner Pelicia E. Hall Image Map

Skip Navigation LinksMDOC > Death Row > Mississippi and the Death Penalty

Mississippi and the Death Penalty

View Page Navigation

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
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
Back to Top