A Mississippi man who pleaded guilty to murdering his wife and sexually assaulting her 12-year-old daughter was executed Wednesday, making him the first death row inmate put to death in the state since 2012.
David Neal Cox was pronounced dead at 6:12 p.m. after a mixture of three chemicals – midazolam, vecuronium bromide, and potassium chloride – was injected into his left arm, according to the Mississippi Department of Corrections (DOC).
Cox had pleaded guilty to murder, sexual assault and other charges, and requested a sentencing jury, which sentenced him to death for the capital murder conviction in 2012, according to court records.
“He died peacefully and without incident. I’ve never seen an execution go smoother,” said Mississippi Commissioner of Corrections Burl Cain in a press release.
Given a chance to say his final words, the DOC reported Cox said, “I want to tell my children that I love them very, very much, and that I was a good man at one time, and only read the King James [version] of the Bible, and I appreciate the Commissioner for being so kind to me. That’s all I got to say.”
Cox was the state’s first execution since 2012, according to the DOC. Six were conducted that year.
Mississippi is one of several states that have struggled to obtain the drugs needed to carry out lethal injections after pharmaceutical companies began barring the use of their products in executions.
In 2010, European drug manufacturers started banning exports to the US of drugs used in lethal injections and in 2016, Pfizer strengthened controls to prevent its products from being used in executions.
Mississippi currently faces a federal lawsuit over the constitutionality of its execution process, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. In a July court filing in the case, the state said it had acquired the drugs needed to resume lethal injections, but declined to say how they were obtained.
Court documents detail Cox’s crimes
According to court documents, Cox separated from his wife Kim in 2009 and spent nine months in jail before posting bond after her daughter, who was a minor, told her that Cox had raped her.
“Cox openly blamed Kim for his incarceration, stating that he would kill her once released,” a court document said.
Kim and her children moved in with Kim’s sister, Kristie Salmon, according to court documents, but within weeks of being released on bond, Cox bought a handgun and on May 14, 2010, shot his way into Salmon’s house, a court document said.
“Cox shot Kim at about 7 p.m. and let her slowly bleed to death over the course of the night as she repeatedly begged for help,” the court document said. In addition, he sexually assaulted the 12-year-old child three times in front of her, it said.
A SWAT team went in and took Cox into custody just before 3:30 a.m., according to court records.
Cox asked justices of the Mississippi Supreme Court to carry out his sentence after telling his lawyers to file no more appeals, according to the DOC.