Pictured: David Neal Cox.
David Neal Cox

A man who killed his estranged wife and held their family hostage is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Wednesday evening, set to become the first person executed in Mississippi since 2012.

David Neal Cox was sentenced to death in 2012 after pleading guilty to all eight charges against him, including one count of capital murder, two counts of kidnapping, one count of burglary, one of firing into a dwelling, and three counts of sexual battery. 

In 2010, Cox broke into the home of his sister-in-law, shot his estranged wife twice, and barricaded himself, his wife, his son and his stepdaughter in the home for 10 hours. The wife died due to lack of medical treatment, and the stepdaughter was sexually assaulted multiple times during the 10-hour period.

Cox’s attorneys filed a petition for post-conviction relief (the lessening of a sentence) in 2016 citing multiple issues with the trial, but Cox subsequently submitted multiple motions asking to have his court-counsel dismissed, all appeals terminated, and his execution scheduled. Cox has submitted multiple letters to the court stating his guilt and his belief that he should be executed. 

“I am worthy of death & I do not wish to challenge the state of Mississippi any further,” Cox wrote in a November 2018 motion. 

A hearing occurred in February 2021 to determine Cox’s mental competence, which found that he was capable of understanding the gravity of the situation and that his motions could be honored. His court-appointed attorneys submitted appeals to this ruling, which resulted in the Supreme Court decision that was issued on Oct. 21.

A spokesperson for Gov. Tate Reeves issued a statement on Tuesday, saying he has no plans of stopping the execution. 

“The Governor has reviewed the facts of this case and there is no question that David Cox committed these horrific crimes,” the statement said. “Mr. Cox has admitted his guilt on multiple occasions and has been found competent by both the Circuit Court and Mississippi Supreme Court. Further, Mr. Cox himself filed a motion requesting that all appeals be dismissed and his execution date be set. In light of this, the Governor has no intention at this time of granting clemency or delaying this execution.”

As first reported by The Associated Press, the Mississippi Department of Corrections revealed in court papers earlier this year that it had acquired three drugs for lethal injections: midazolam, which is a sedative; vecuronium bromide, which paralyzes the muscles; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

Mississippi is among several states that have had trouble finding drugs for lethal injections in recent years since pharmaceutical companies in the United States and Europe began banning the use of their drugs for executions.

Mississippi does not have any other executions scheduled after Cox’s, though more than 30 people are sitting on death row in the state.

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Will Stribling covered healthcare and breaking news for Mississippi Today.