Despite the evidence that led a jury to convict Michelle Byrom of masterminding a plot to kill her husband, the planned execution of the former lounge dancer “just feels wrong,” says former Mississippi Supreme Court justice Oliver Diaz. The Christian Science Monitor says Mrs. Byrom was convicted of capital murder for a role in the death of Edward Byrom Sr. Two co-defendants, including her son, Edward Byrom Jr., the triggerman, received less than 10 years in prison after they agreed to become witnesses for the state.
As the execution looms, Mississippi faces a choice critics contend could reflect on the justice system more broadly: Should the state execute a woman said to have mental illness and an abusive past who, as Jackson (MS) Free Press columnist Ronni Mott opined, “did not commit the crime she's convicted of”? Mississippi has not executed a woman in 70 years. To prosecutors and judges, Byrom's conviction is based on facts and confessions that come to one conclusion: She was an angry, bitter spouse who wanted her husband out of the way so she could cash a life insurance policy. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood requested a March 27 execution date for Byrom, who is in her late 50s. Yesterday, the state Supreme Court refused to approve the request, with no explanation. Byrom has been pleading for a hearing to introduce new evidence.