Mississippi's First Female Execution In 70 Years Set To Go Ahead, Even Though Someone Else Has Confessed To The Crime
Michelle Byrom is one of two women on Mississippi's death row — for a murder her son has allegedly confessed to committing. The 56-year-old was convicted of the 1999 killing of her husband, Edward Byrom Sr., who was reportedly abusive towards her and their family. Michelle is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection Thursday, but the case has sparked debate among those who believe she deserves a stay.
If put to death, Michelle will be the first woman executed by the state of Mississippi in 70 years. The defense claims she was abused all her life, including suffering at the hands of her husband. Prosecutors, however, say she plotted the shooting death of her husband, hiring a friend of her son to kill him while she was in the hospital receiving treatment for double pneumonia.
So why are some calling for a stay of execution? Well, Michelle's son, Edward Byrom Jr., has admitted to the crime of which his mother was convicted four times: once in a statement given to a court-appointed psychologist, and another three times in letters smuggled to his mother.
If Edward says he committed the crime, it would seemingly make sense for Michelle's punishment to be reconsidered. But a major factor stands in the way: The jury never heard the evidence. During Michelle's murder trial, Edward testified against his mother in exchange for a reduced sentence. Jurors never saw the letters he sent, which contained detailed descriptions on how he claimed he killed his father.
Edward has served his own time for his involvement, and was handed down a 30-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to conspiring to commit capital murder. He's now free on earned supervised release. The Clarion-Ledger reports that the only time Michelle ever admitted to being guilty was when a sheriff asked her if she would leave her son to take the blame, and she responded, “No, he’s not going to. I wouldn’t let him. ... I will take all the responsibility. I’ll do it."
Byrom's supporters say she deserves a stay of execution due to Edward's confessions. The state and federal appellate courts stand by their guilty verdict, but the Supreme Court has yet to approve her date for the lethal injection.