Mississippi inmate executed

 

 

 

 

 

 

A death row prisoner was executed by lethal injection today for sexually assaulting and beating his former boss’s wife to death with an axe handle in 1995.

Larry Matthew Puckett, 35, was pronounced dead at 6.18 pm at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, authorities said.

Puckett was an 18-year-old Eagle Scout when he was convicted of the murder of Rhonda Hatten Griffis, a 28-year-old mother of two, who was found dead in her mobile home on October 14, 1995.

Executed: Larry Matthew Puckett, 35, (right) was killed by lethal injection in Mississippi today after he murdered Rhonda Hatten Griffis at her home when he was 18 (left)
Executed: Larry Matthew Puckett, 35, (right) was killed by lethal injection in Mississippi today after he murdered Rhonda Hatten Griffis at her home when he was 18 (left)

Executed: Larry Matthew Puckett, 35, (right) was killed by lethal injection in Mississippi today after he murdered Rhonda Hatten Griffis at her home when he was 18 (left)

Puckett had previously worked as a landscaper for the woman’s husband David Griffis in Hattiesburg, Mississippi but was due to ship out for basic training with the Navy.

The young woman’s mother Nancy Hatten said she had discovered the teenage Puckett in the home with her daughter’s dead body holding a club.

She said Puckett tried to blame the woman’s husband, who arrived shortly afterwards and scuffled with the man. Puckett fled and was arrested two days later.

Puckett’s supporters protested up until the hour of his execution claiming that Mrs Griffis’ husband had killed her in a jealous rage. Puckett had also claimed that he had been having an affair with the woman and her husband caught them.

How the victim’s mother said she found Puckett in the home holding an axe handle, which prosecutors believed was used in the killing.

Retribution: Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps hugs Nancy Hatten, mother of murder victim Rhonda Hatten Griffis, following the execution of Larry Matthew PuckettRetribution: Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps hugs Nancy Hatten, mother of murder victim Rhonda Hatten Griffis, following the execution of Larry Matthew Puckett

Protest to the end: Mary Puckett led protesters last week as they made a last appeal to stop her son's execution in Mississippi Protest to the end: Mary Puckett led protesters last week as they made a last appeal to stop her son’s execution in Mississippi

Nancy Hatten told The Associated Press last week: ‘I caught him in her house with the club in his hand. Her husband wasn’t anywhere on the premises at the time. He drove up later.’

After fleeing the home, the 18-year-old was captured and although he confessed to being at the home to rob it, he always denied killing the mother of two.

Puckett has been sentenced to death on August 5, 1996.

‘My thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family.’

Governor Bryant who denied a last-minute appeal from Larry Matthew Puckett

Puckett’s mother Mary led supporters to rally against her son’s death sentence at the state Capitol in Jackson and appealed to Governor Phil Bryant to reduce the sentence to life without parole.

Governor Bryant issued a statement last week which read: ‘In light of Mr. Puckett’s having been convicted by a jury of his peers more than 15 years ago and after a review of the facts associated with his case, I have decided not to grant clemency and will not delay the execution.

‘My thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family.’

In his last hours, Puckett spent time with family and a spiritual adviser.

According to gulflive.com, he ate a last meal of Macadamia nut pancakes, shrimp and grits, ice cream cake, caramel candy and root beer.

Puckett had asked that his relatives and lawyer not be present for his execution but Mrs Griffis’ parents were on the witness list.

Some 4,000 people had signed an online petition set up by Puckett’s mother to try to persuade Governor Bryant to stop the execution.

Last moments: Puckett was killed by lethal injection at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at 6pm in front of his victim's parentsLast moments: Puckett was killed by lethal injection at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at 6pm in front of his victim’s parents

Protest: Demonstrators against the death penalty gathered outside the prison where the 35-year-old was killedProtest: Demonstrators against the death penalty gathered outside the prison where the 35-year-old was killed

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