McALESTER, Okla. - A polygamist convicted of fatally stabbing his 11-year-old niece and dumping her body in rural Oklahoma was executed Thursday.
Jessie James Cummings Jr., whose personality was once compared to Charles Manson's, reiterated his innocence before being executed.
"The justice system let me down on this case. It turned a blind eye to truth in this," Cummings said. "Today, you came here to see an innocent man die."
He gasped twice during the six-minute execution and died at 6:11 p.m.
Cummings was convicted of killing Melissa Moody, whose skeletal remains were discovered near a Choctaw County bridge in 1991.
In an application for clemency, his attorney, Chris Eulberg, wrote that the conviction was based solely on the uncorroborated testimony of his two wives, Juanita and Sherry Cummings.
The clemency application also contained an affidavit from a psychologist who examined Cummings twice in 1997 and found no evidence indicating he had either the intelligence or interpersonal skills to manipulate others or cause them to commit serious crimes against their will.
Prosecutors allege that Cummings mentally and physically abused his wives and children to maintain control over the women. It was not immediately known how many children Cummings had with at least three women known to have had relationships with him.
"It appears Cummings was attempting to emulate Charles Manson in breaking down his wives' self-esteem and in exerting strict discipline and control on them and their children through trauma and threats," state prosecutors wrote to the state clemency board urging them to deny Cummings' clemency request.
In September 1991, while Jessie Cummings was visiting his sick father in Oklahoma City, he ordered his wives to kill his sister, Judy Mayo, and hold Melissa captive until he returned. Prosecutors contend he drove Melissa to a rural area in an adjacent county, stabbed her to death and dumped her body.
He also was convicted of killing Mayo, but a court later overturned that conviction.
Juanita Cummings eventually confessed to shooting Mayo and was sentenced to life in prison. Sherry Cummings received a 35-year sentence for permitting child abuse and being an accessory after the fact.