(Photo: Mississippi Department of Corrections)
The state of Mississippi may execute the first woman since 1944 if no appeals are granted to Michelle Byrom. The case has brought great attention to the state, given that Byrom was convicted and sentenced to death in 2000 for the murder of her husband, but her son has reportedly admitted to the crime four times.
Edward Byrom Sr. was shot to death while in his bed in June 1999, after years of reportedly physically and verbally abusing his wife and son. Michelle, who was in the hospital being treated for pneumonia, allegedly conspired with her son, Edward Byrom Jr., and his friend, Joey Gillis, to kill Byrom Sr. Michelle later told authorities that she had committed the crime and said that she did not want her son to go to prison for her deed.
"No, he's not going to," she told the sheriff, according to The Clarion-Ledger. "I wouldn't let him. I will take all the responsibility. I'll do it."
However, Byrom Jr. has written three letters to his mother in which he confesses to the murder and even gave an account of the murder itself. He wrote that he killed his father in a fit of rage after being called a "[expletive], no good, mistake, and telling me I'm inconciderate (sic) and just care about myself. 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," he wrote.
He then got a 9mm handgun belonging to his grandfather and shot his own father before fleeing. Byrom Jr. went to the hospital to check on his mother and tell her what he had done before going back to the house to see if his father was still alive.
"When they got me here, I gave them a [expletive] story after another, trying to save my own a--," he wrote in another letter to his mother, "but when (Sheriff) David Smith started questioning me, and told me what happened, I was so scared, confused, and high, and I just started spitting the first thought out, which turned into this big conspiracy thing, for money, which was all BS, that's why I had so many different stories."
When questioned by police, Michelle gave statements that included details possibly provided to her by her son. She was determined to protect him from seeing any jail time, but that may end up costing her life. Byrom Jr. made a deal with officials in order to testify against his mother for a lighter sentence for his participation in the crime.
The state is now divided as to whether Michelle received a fair trial and whether she should receive the death penalty when someone else has confessed to the crime four times.
"The majority of Mississippians support the death penalty because they think that people get fair trials and they think that they have competent attorneys representing them," former state Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr. told CNN. "In this case, she didn't have either one."
"I always want to go back to the victim and try to remember with all the attention paid to the condemned, I also want to remember the person who was murdered and what their family has gone through," Miss 103 News Director Randy Bell told The Clarion-Ledger. "And I try to remember that this is what has been determined to be a fair outcome of a case like this."