Mississippi Requests Execution for First Female Prisoner Since 1944

Michelle Byrom was 42 when she hired a killer to murder her husband in Tishomingo County, Mississippi, on June 4, 1999. She was sentenced on November 18, 2000. (Mississippi Dept. of Corrections)
Michelle Byrom was 42 when she hired a killer to murder her husband in Tishomingo County, Mississippi, on June 4, 1999. She was sentenced on November 18, 2000. (Mississippi Dept. of Corrections)

The letter starts off like any normal letter from a son to his mother.

“First, let me say Happy M-Day, + I Love you.”

The second sentence, however, reveals a darker history.

“Yes, the past is just that, the past, but certain decisions + choises (sic) are unforgettable and unforgiveable (sic).”

The letter was hand-written to a mother on death row, set to pay for a crime that her own son confessed to committing.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has requested that 57-year-old Michelle Byrom be executed by lethal injection Thursday for the 1999 murder of her husband. Edward Byrom Sr. was fatally shot in his home in Iuka, Mississippi, while Michelle was in the hospital receiving treatment for double pneumonia.

The state Supreme Court has the final say on executions and has yet to confirm the date or weigh in on the request.

If Byrom is put to death, she will be the first woman the state has executed in 70 years, but her advocates say there are many reasons she deserves a stay.

Chief among them is the fact that Byrom’s son has confessed not once, but four times, to killing his abusive father: in three jailhouse letters smuggled to his mother, and once in a statement given to a court-appointed psychologist.

In what’s been called a “perversion of American jurisprudence” by Warren Yoder, executive director of the Public Policy Center of Mississippi, a jury has never heard any of Edward Byrom Jr.’s confessions.

In one explicit confession letter to his mother, Byrom Jr. detailed how he killed his father in a rage after his father called him a “bastard, no good, mistake, and telling me I’m inconciderate (sic) and just care about my self.”

His father hit him for the last time that day, Byrom Jr. wrote.

“He slaps me, then goes back to his room. As I sat on my bed, tears of rage flowing, remembering my childhood, my anger kept building and building,” the letter said.

Byrom Jr. retrieved a 9mm handgun — a WWII weapon that belonged to his grandfather, according to the Jackson Free Press — entered his father’s bedroom, opened fire and fled, Byrom Jr. wrote.

Today, Byrom Jr. is a free man, living where he grew up, in Tishomingo County in rural northeastern Mississippi. He has found religion, according to a letter he wrote to his mother after her conviction, and his Facebook page says he studied fine arts at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

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SOURCE:  Marlena Baldacci
CNN

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