Death Row Inmate Issued Retrial Just Before Her Scheduled Execution, In 'Extraordinary And Extreme Rare' Court Decision
Scheduled to have been executed last Thursday, a Mississippi woman on death row has now been issued a new trial. Michelle Byrom has spent 13 years on death row after being convicted of the murder of her husband, Edward Byrom Sr. Now, a court order has granted the 57-year-old a retrial so that her case can be heard once again by a jury, this time with new evidence.
Michelle Byrom's son, Edward Byrom, Jr., had allegedly confessed to killing Edward Byrom, Sr., Michelle's husband, in several letters from jail and in an interview with a court-appointed psychologist. The opinion, released from the state Supreme Court on Monday, noted that this decision is "extraordinary and extremely rare."
Attorney General Jim Hood had requested Michelle's execution for last Thursday night, and says his office will ask the court for their reasons behind the reversal. In a statement, Hood said:
While we respect the Mississippi Supreme Court's decision, it is important that the trial court know and understand the specific errors that were found by the justices so that the lower court knows the best way to proceed. Our citizens can once again take comfort in the fact that we have a legal system that works for all parties involved.
And from Michelle's attorney, David Calder:
We are very grateful that the Mississippi Supreme Court has granted Michelle Byrom’s request for relief from her death sentence. This was a team effort on the part of the attorneys currently representing Michelle, and we believe that the court reached a just and fair result under the facts presented in this case.
Had Michelle been put to death, she would have been the first woman executed in Mississippi in 70 years. The defense had claimed Michelle was abused by her husband. On the other hand, prosecutors claimed Michelle plotted her husband's death by hiring her son's friend, Joey Gillis, to shoot her husband while she was being treated for double pneumonia in the hospital. That way, she could allegedly collect his life insurance policy.
As Bustle reported:
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.“