A death warrant for convicted murderer Jason Reeves was signed in June and his execution date was set for today until a federal judge put it on hold earlier this month.
Reeves, 43, was convicted of first-degree murder in 2004 after abducting 4-year-old Mary Jean Thigpen from Moss Bluff on Nov. 1, 2001, and then raping her before stabbing her 16 times and slicing her neck.
The U.S. Supreme Court in May of this year denied an appeal by Reeves and that decision set things in motion for an eventual execution for Reeves.
It has been nearly 20 years since Thigpen was killed and in that time Reeves has had two trials, two death warrants filed, and multiple appeals.
Reeves has begun what is likely his last chance before execution – an appeal in the federal court system.
Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier said defense attorneys always file a federal appeal after all state appeals have been exhausted.
DeRosier has said he believes all relevant issues concerning Reeves' case have already been handled by the courts.
If Reeves' appeal is denied in federal court in Lake Charles, his case will proceed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in New Orleans.
DeRosier has previously said he does believe Reeves will eventually reach the end of his appeals and that it will be soon.
When that happens, it's likely another execution date will be set for Reeves.
Even with an execution date, there is no guarantee that Reeves would be put to death on that day. Executions in Louisiana are currently on hold due to issues with the state's execution process.
Attorney General Jeff Landry has said he "stands with DeRosier in seeking to follow through on the promise our state has made to the victim's family."
Landry said the law does not mandate any particular drug protocol for execution. He said it simply mandates a death sentence be carried out by lethal injection.
Reeves has been on death row at Angola since 2004.