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Pronounced dead at 6:12 p.m. | David Neal Cox’s final words before execution

David Neal Cox was the first person executed in Mississippi since 2012.
Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 1:28 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2021 at 6:30 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - David Neal Cox was the first person executed in Mississippi since 2012.

Cox was pronounced dead at 6:12 p.m. at the State Penitentiary at Parchman.

WLBT’s Josh Carter witnessed the execution. He wrote down Cox’s last words: “I want my children to know that I love them very much and I was a good man at one time. And don’t ever read anything but the King James Bible, and I wanna thank the commissioner for being so kind to me. And that’s all I got to say.”

Cox’s attorneys stated in a press release that he wanted them to speak out about the “inhumane prison conditions at Parchman” and why the “horrible living conditions made (his) decision to give up (his) appeals very easy.”

Meanwhile, a new mystery has arisen, with Mississippi Commissioner Burl Cain saying Cox “told me one time, only this, that he had left a letter with someone to mail after he was dead. Who knows what, when, or where. If it appears, it does, if it (doesn’t), he didn’t.”

Cain provided multiple updates on the execution of David Cox on Wednesday, discussing everything from Cox’s last meal to his demeanor with only hours to live.

The commissioner was with Cox when he died. “He asked me while he was there if he was going to have any pain. And you can’t answer that without thinking about the victims, but in his case, no, you’re not going to have any pain. I don’t see any pain. I explained about blue lights, and things like that, and what Billy Graham said, about the angels carrying your soul to Heaven,” he said. “That’s the kind of thing we talked about.”

“He wanted to know about the different wires and lines... and that was great,” he said, referring to the injection equipment. “I think the people were really good. They didn’t hurt him, and, so, that was good. It was all good. It was really a smooth process. You couldn’t make it more picture-perfect than we had tonight.”

Speaking earlier in the day, Cain said MDOC officials met with Cox Sunday to discuss the procedure, answer questions and determine Cox’s last meal - banana pudding, French fries, catfish, and hushpuppies.

He and corrections officials shared the meal shortly before the 4:45 press conference. “Other than that, the hour before, he visited with his attorneys and so forth, to hang out and have visits and just wait,” Cain said. “He was OK and ready to go.”

MDOC and Parchman officials began making preparations for the execution days ago.

“Well, he moved over to Unit 17 on Sunday evening, late and that was when it was scheduled. Prior to that, we came up and met with him... and spent some time with him to talk about what was going to happen, how it was going to happen, and what the process is and to find out what he wanted for his last meal and that sort of thing.”

“And so we probably spent 45 minutes with him at least, and he asked a lot of questions. He was upbeat and it was cool,” he said.

Cain would not offer details about the drugs being used in the execution, saying that state law does not require him to do so. “Our law provides that we don’t have to disclose any of that, so we follow the law,” he said.

“Everything is meticulously planned and on schedule, and I have no reason not to believe that the execution won’t take place at 6 p.m.,” he said and pointed to the fact that the 2 p.m. press conference Wednesday was held on time.

A hearse was already at the prison to pick up Cox’s remains. Cain did not know where Cox’s body would be taken, except to say a funeral home.

Cox was convicted in 2010 of killing his estranged wife and kidnapping his two children.

The decision to move forward with his execution was granted by the Mississippi Supreme Court in October after Cox asked the court to dismiss all his appeals.

Cain says Cox showed remorse and reported Cox saying the execution will bring closure to the victims of his crime. “Closure to his sons for taking their mom,” he said. “He has been remorseful and that’s a good thing.”

“It’s obvious, you know, he made a lot of bad decisions, and I think he qualified it best when he said, ‘I wasn’t always that bad.’”

There was a spiritual advisor and two witnesses present when Cox died.

More than 4,600 people signed a petition asking Gov. Tate Reeves to halt the planned execution of David Cox.

According to a petition found on the Action Network’s website, the decision “amounts to state-sponsored suicide.”

The petition is sponsored by Death Penalty Action, a group dedicated to abolishing the death penalty. Around 1:25 p.m., 4,634 signatures had been collected, about 1,800 short of the group’s goal of 6,400.

The group goes on to state that the petition isn’t about Cox, but about the people, and whether a felon can force the state to punish him.

“In what other circumstance in Mississippi does a prisoner dictate his punishment?” they ask.

Cox was adamant that he was ready to accept his fate. In a hand-written letter to the Supreme Court on October 27, he told justices that his attorneys were going to file an appeal of his sentence to the U.S. Supreme Court without his consent.

The court had dismissed Cox’s attorneys but left them in place in a solely advisory capacity. He told justices his attorneys were also going to file suit against the method of his execution.

“I told all of the post-conviction counsels that if they try and file any further filings on my behalf, I’ll do my (damnedest) to have them all disbarred,” he wrote. “They told me they do not have to do what I say.”

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