July 24, 2015
HARRISON COUNTY — The execution of Richard Gerald Jordan, Mississippi’s longest-serving death row inmate, is being held up over a lawsuit. Jordan filed suit to stop the state from using a lethal cocktail he says is experimental and could cause him great pain before he dies.
Jordan exhausted all of his appeals before the U.S. Supreme Court at the end of June, paving the way for Attorney General Jim Hood to request an execution date of the high court.
In other such cases from as far back as April 1989, the Attorney General’s Office has filed for an execution date within a day or two of the exhaustion of an inmate’s final appeal.
Attorney General Jim Hood’s office said Jordan’s litigation has held up the request to set an execution date because the Mississippi Department of Corrections “can no longer obtain (the anesthetic) pentobarbital and thus will have to obtain another drug in (its) place.”
“That change has not been made as of yet and we have informed the federal court we will not request an execution date prior to that change,” Hood’s office said.
MDOC did not wish to comment, citing the pending litigation.
The state adopted the latest lethal-injection protocol in 2011 after European manufacturers of the previous execution drug ceased its distribution to prisons in the United States because it did not want them used in executions.
Jordan’s lawsuit, filed by the Solange MacArthur Justice Center in New Orleans, requested an injunction to stop the use of the current execution protocol.
In the suit, lawyer Jim Craig said Mississippi is one of the last states in the nation to use a compounded form of pentobarbital before injecting a paralytic drug and potassium chloride to execute a condemned person.
He questioned whether the state could mix a safe and effective form of pentobarbital as an anesthetic.
Even if it did, Craig said, it could act more slowly than the previous drugs used, resulting in a person remaining conscious and aware he is suffocating when the par
alytic drug is administered prior to potassium chloride to stop the heart.
“… The untried and untested drugs …” the suit says, result in a substantial risk for the condemned to face a “torturous death by live suffocation and cardiac arrest.”
Jordan is suing based on his right to not suffer cruel and unusual punishment.
Family wants justice
That means little to the family members of Jordan’s victim, Edwina Marter, who have waited more than 39 years for closure.
“This has been going on for us far too long,” said Marter’s sister Mary Degruy. “When is this going to happen? Nobody is calling us.”
Edwina Marter was 37 years old when Jordan kidnapped and killed her in Harrison County on Jan. 11, 1976.
Degruy still visits her sister’s grave in New Orleans often, leaving flowers and maintaining its surroundings in her memory.
Marter and her husband, Charles, had been together for years and had two sons.
“She was very good-hearted and she loved her kids,” Degruy said. “She did charity and they were well known in Mississippi. She would always come and stay with us for a week or two when the kids weren’t in school. We did everything together when we could.”
Charles Marter over the years has often spoken out about his wife’s killing and the delay in justice, but now in his 70s, he no longer wants to discuss it, his son Eric Marter said.
Eric Marter said he was 11 years old when his mother was murdered.
“She was a stay-at-home mom and she took care of us,” he said. “She was always there for us. But ours wasn’t a normal childhood with a mom and dad because of this.”
As for Jordan, he said, “He should have been executed a long time ago.”
The murder plot
Jordan killed Edwina Marter execution-style shortly after he arrived in South Mississippi on Jan. 11, 1976, and spotted Gulf National Bank at U.S. 90 and U.S. 49 in Gulfport. He called and asked for the name of the senior commercial loan officer and was told it was Charles Marter, who was also vice president of the bank.
Jordan went through a Gulfport city directory, which at that time listed occupations, to find Marter’s home address.
Jordan went to the home, posing as an electrical repairman to check the breaker boxes, and Edwina Marter let him in.
He grabbed her as her 3-year-old son slept in a bedroom and forced her into a car. He drove to De Soto National Forest, where he let her out and killed her.
After the killing, Jordan called Charles Marter demanding a $25,000 ransom in exchange for his wife’s safe return. He told Marter to wrap the ransom up in a brown paper bag and drop it off at a location on U.S. 49. Marter gathered up the money, but also alerted authorities.
Twice Marter tried to deliver the ransom to Jordan, but Jordan saw law enforcement officers as Marter was making his way to the drop-off point. He left both times. He contacted Marter a third time, telling him to leave the money under a jacket on Interstate 10 near the Canal Road exit.
Marter left the money, but neither he nor Jordan knew authorities were watching.
When Jordan picked up the money, authorities chased him, but he eluded them. He drove to a discount pharmacy to buy new clothes, then called a taxi. He was in a taxi when authorities arrested him in a roadblock.
Jordan confessed to killing Edwina Marter and told authorities where to find her body. Her family said she’d been shot and tied to a tree.
“He took my sister away and we’re still dealing with it,” Degruy said. “I think he’s been living long enough. It’s not fair to us. You know, you don’t like people to die, but he deserves it.”