The story of a Mississippi death row inmate contains many elements of a modern tragedy: drug addiction, the limits of restraining orders, a bond reduction that got an angry husband out of jail, and a wife killed in front of her children by the man determined to end her life.
Kim Kirk had two daughters when she met and married David Cox in Union County. They then had two sons of their own, but soon afterward the husband got hooked on painkillers while recovering from a back injury. Testimony at his trial indicated he also started using methamphetamine.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported that in 2009, Kim told authorities that her husband had molested a child. In arresting him, lawmen found ingredients to make meth.
In jail on one drug charge and three felony charges involving children, cellmates testified that the husband repeatedly said he would kill his wife, possibly because she refused to bring his sons to the jail to visit him.
In 2010, indicted on one drug charge and one of child endangerment, his attorney got a circuit judge to reduce his $200,000 bond to $50,000. The husband’s sister put up $6,300 to get her brother out of jail.
A month later, while under a restraining order preventing him from being near his wife or children, the husband forced his way into a trailer and shot his wife twice. He prevented medical treatment for her injuries for at least seven hours while she bled to death.
In 2012, the husband received a death sentence for killing his wife, along with another 185 years for various crimes, including two kidnappings, shooting his way into the trailer to attack his wife — and assaulting a child in front of her wounded mother.
There are two things that make this horrible story worth comment today.
First, it was one of the domestic violence cases that forced Mississippi lawmakers, law enforcement officers and prosecutors to toughen laws and procedures in order to keep potentially violent suspects behind bars.
Suspects out on bond may be required to wear a tracking device. They are more likely to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before being allowed out on bond. After release, a threat against a partner or family members typically lands the suspect back in jail. The state attorney general’s office maintains a domestic abuse registry, where judges, lawmen and court officials can find details of any case in Mississippi.
Also, the husband has asked for permission to give up his appeals and seek an execution date. Last week a Union County circuit judge agreed that David Cox was competent to end his appeals voluntarily. He said the prisoner acknowledged his guilt, accepted the jury’s verdict and was remorseful for what he did.
Some may wonder whether the death penalty is ever appropriate. This case is a reminder that sometimes it is. Sometimes a person has intentionally caused so much damage that his execution is an extreme but fitting punishment.