PARCHMAN, Miss., May 17 (UPI) -- The state of Mississippi Tuesday executed Rodney F. Gray for the kidnapping, robbery and murder of an elderly woman.
Gray, 38, had been on death row since 1996 for the 1994 slaying of Grace Blackwell, 79, of Louin and maintained to the end he was innocent.
Blackwell's body was found at the end of a bridge in rural Jasper County.
The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson reported Gray was pronounced dead at 6:12 p.m. local time at the state penitentiary in Parchman.
The condemned man shook his head when asked if he wanted to make a last statement, the newspaper said.
Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps told reporters shortly before the execution Gray steadfastly maintained he was not guilty of the crimes that led to his death sentence.
However, the lead prosecutor in the case has said the evidence left no doubt about Gray's guilt, The Clarion-Ledger said.
Epps said Gray made at least two phone calls on his last day, one to a friend and another to his spiritual adviser. His mother visited with him for 2 hours during the afternoon. Two of his attorneys and prison Chaplain Willie Bays also spent time with him.
"He said he has made peace with the Lord," Epps said of his conversations with Gray during the day. "He has been reading the Bible."
At Gray's request, none of his family members watched him die. He asked Bays to be a witness after own spiritual adviser didn't make the trip.