ALMOST EXECUTED BY MISSISSIPPI, MICHELLE BYROM FREE
26 giugno 2015: Michelle Byrom - who came close to being the 1st woman executed in Mississippi since World War II – emerged free today for the 1st time in 16 years.
Byrom, 58, White, entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to commit murder in Tishomingo County Circuit Court.
Judge Paul Funderburk sentenced her to serve 20 years in custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections and was given credit for 16 years and 20 days she has already served with the balance suspended. In the same courthouse where she was previously sent to death row, she left a free woman. She had spent 14 of her 16 years of imprisonment on death row.
Byrom had exhausted her state and federal appeals when The Clarion-Ledger and others pointed out in March 2014 that the jury never saw the letters her son, Edward Jr., wrote, confessing to the murder.
The jury also never heard from a psychologist who said Junior gave details of how he killed his father. Before the month ended, the state Supreme Court tossed out her conviction and ordered a new trial.
Friday's sentencing ends a long road for Byrom, who came out of the courthouse in a wheelchair. The 58-year-old woman has been battling lupus and other health issues. At her 2000 capital murder trial, Junior testified that Byrom hired "hit man" Joey Gillis for $10,000 to $15,000 to kill Edward Sr. at their home - money he said she planned to get from insurance proceeds. The jury convicted Byrom of capital murder for this alleged murder-for-hire scheme. Circuit Judge Thomas Gardner sentenced Byrom to death. In her appeal to the state Supreme Court, 3 justices said Byrom deserved a new trial, but 5 justices upheld her conviction.
Months after Byrom's conviction, Gillis' attorney learned about Junior's statement to the psychologist and challenged the accusations against his client. The defense also learned authorities found gunpowder residue on Junior, rather than Gillis.Gillis wound up pleading to accessory
after the fact for helping Edward Jr. get rid of the gun, and in 2009, he walked free from prison. Junior, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to commit capital murder, has been free since August 2013 on earned supervised release. When The Clarion-Ledger questioned him by telephone, he denied he shot his father, but when asked about a psychologist's statement that he admitted killing his father, he hung up. (Source: Clarion-Ledger, 26/06/2015)