Death Row executioner forgot restraints as killer to bashed himself to death

A Death Row inmate bashed himself to death after his executioner forgot to use the restraints properly because he was drunk.

Jimmy Lee Gray murdered Deressa Jean Scales, 3, while he was out on parole in 1976 after killing his teenage girlfriend Elda L. Prince.

The twisted child killer was put back behind bars and became the first person executed in Mississippi since the state reinstated the death penalty.

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Gray was convicted after he kidnapped and sodomized the little girl.

He indulged in his final meal which consisted of Mexican food, strawberries and milk before he was sent to the gas chamber on September 2, 1983.

What was meant to be a simple execution turned into a botched nightmare after the required head constraint wasn't used.

The convict remained seated in the 'death chair' as he relentlessly bashed his head on a metal bar until he knocked himself unconscious.

Witness Dan Lohwasser, a reporter for United Press International, said Gray desperately gasped for air during the execution.

After the ordeal was over, he said: “I thought I had some pretty hard bark on me from being in Vietnam, but I was pretty shook up."

It was reported that Gray was still alive eight minutes into the execution.

As many as 15 people watched him gasp 11 times and said he started to moan as they saw him fight helplessly in the chair.

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The scenes were said to be so horrific that officials decided to remove witnesses from the room whilst he battled in the chamber.

After he was declared dead, his defence counsel stated “Jimmy Lee Gray died banging his head against a steel pole in the gas chamber” which sparked “a painful death”.

Prison staff initially claimed that Gray suffered a heart attack and died 3 minutes after the gas was released.

However, it was recorded that all movement was ceased 9 minutes into the ordeal.

It later emerged that the executioner, Thomas Berry Bruce, had been intoxicated the entire time.

Ministers, social workers and lawyers who developed a relationship with Gray during his time on death row, described him as ''sensitive,'' ''bright'' and ''troubled.''

Derissa’s father commented: ''I'm glad it's happening, it should have happened years ago.''

“Even in prison he had been able to talk, to breathe and to laugh and he had taken all these things from my little girl… He didn’t have the right to continue living.’‘

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