TUPELO, Mississippi (Reuters) - Mississippi is set on Wednesday to execute a grocery store butcher found guilty of dismembering his drug dealer with knives taken from work and then scattering the body parts in an alligator-infested bayou in 1996.
The execution of Gary Carl Simmons Jr., 49, by lethal injection was scheduled for 6 p.m. local time (2300 GMT) at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman. It is scheduled to be the third execution carried out in the state this month.
There have been 21 executions in the United States this year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Simmons was convicted of the August 1996 murder of Jeffery Wolfe, 21. According to records from the Mississippi Supreme Court, Wolfe and his girlfriend had driven from Houston to Mississippi to collect a drug debt of between $12,000 to $20,000.
But when they got to Simmons' house, Simmons and his accomplice, Timothy Milano, told Wolfe they did not have the drugs or the money, records showed. An argument erupted, and Milano fatally shot Wolfe with a .22-caliber rifle, records showed.
Simmons then hog-tied and locked Wolfe's girlfriend in a foot locker, removing her later to rape her and "telling her that her life depended on how well she performed sexually," the court document said.
Afterward, Simmons put the woman back inside the box and went into the bathroom, where he dismembered and gutted Wolfe's body in the bathtub using knives he had sharpened at work, the records showed.
Simmons and Milano scattered the victim's remains in a bayou behind Simmons' property, according to documents. Wolfe's girlfriend managed to escape from the foot locker and ran to a neighbor's house to call police, records showed.
Simmons was sentenced to death after being convicted in August 1997 of kidnapping, rape and capital murder. Milano was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the crime. (Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Will Dunham)