Date not affirmed by state court. Click here for the full story.
Update: March 26, 2014
The report that an execution date of March 27, 2014, had been set for Michelle Byrom was erroneous. On February 24, 2014, Attorney General Jim Hood requested March 27 as an execution date, however according to a spokesperson for the Mississippi Supreme Court, the justices have yet to act on that request and set a date for execution. Click here for the full story.
March 20, 2014
Michelle E. Byrom's execution is scheduled to occur at 6 pm CDT on Thursday, March 27, 2014, at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Mississippi. Fifty-seven-year-old Michelle is convicted of arranging the murder of her husband, 56-year-old Edward Byrom, Sr., on June 4, 1999, in Tishomingo County, Mississippi. Michelle has spent the last 14 years on Mississippi's death row. She is one of two women currently on death row in Mississippi.
According to Michelle, she had a difficult childhood. Allegedly her step-father sexually abused her for years before forcing her to work as a prostitute. At the age of 15, Michelle ran away from home and became a stripper. Shortly thereafter, she met Edward Byrom, Sr., a man who was 16 years her senior. They had a son together three years later and married when he was five. According to Michelle, Edward physically and verbally abused her. He forced Michelle to have sex with men while he videotaped her. Edward was also physically and verbally abusive towards their son. Michelle claims she tried to leave several times, but was forced to stay by threats of violence.
During her trial, a psychiatrist diagnosed Michelle with depression, alcoholism, a borderline personality disorder, and Muenchausen syndrome, a mental illness which makes people purposefully harm themselves in order to garner sympathy and attention. In Michelle's case, she would ingest rat poison to make herself ill, which led to numerous other problems.
According to prosecutors, Michelle Byrom began looking for someone to kill her husband in late May/early June of 1999, in order to acquire his life insurance. Michelle eventually hired Joey Gillis for $15,000, which would be paid from the life insurance. The Byrom's son, Edward Byrom, Jr. assisted his mother in finding the killer and was aware that one had been hired. Gillis attempted but failed to kill Edward on two separate occasions.
On June 4, 1999, Edward took his wife to see their physician, who informed Michelle she needed to go to the hospital. Edward took off of work for the day and drove Michelle to the hospital, staying with her for a while before leaving, promising to return after lunch. Edward returned home, told his son about his mother and went to watch television in his room. Edward was shot a few hours later with his World War II relic Luger 9-millimeter pistol. There was no evidence of forced entry into the home.
Statements from Joey Gillis and Edward, Jr., indicate that after Edward, Sr. returned home, Junior left the house with Gillis. Gillis was dropped off near the Byrom home, wearing a glove on his right hand and carrying the 9-millimeter pistol. A half hour later, Junior picked up Gillis at the same location, asking if he had killed his father. Gillis affirmed that he was dead, however he claimed that he was not the one to kill Edward. The duo disposed of the glove and shirt Gillis was wearing and hid the pistol. Junior dropped Gillis off and then went to the hospital to tell his mother "it was done." Michelle told Junior to return home and ensure that he was dead. Junior returned home and called the police to report the murder.
Police were immediately suspicious of Junior as he had cuts on his knuckles, blood on the back of his pants near the belt, and on his leg. The blood later turned out to be his own. Junior was taken into custody and later confessed, implicating himself and Gillis. Gillis was taken into custody where he confirmed Junior's story. Gillis maintained he did not kill Edward. Michelle was interviewed twice at the hospital, confessing to her part in the murder during her second interview. Although that confession was not applicable due to defective Miranda warnings, Michelle later gave two statements during which she revealed the same incriminating information.
Edward Byrom, Jr. agreed to a plea deal in exchange for a lighter sentence. He pled guilty to conspiracy to commit capital murder, accessory before the fact to grand larceny, and accessory before the fact to burglary with intent to commit assault. He also testified against his mother. Edward was released from prison in 2013. Gillis also pled guilty to accessory after the fact to capital murder and conspiracy to commit capital murder. Gillis was released from prison in 2009. Michelle waived her right to trial by jury during the punishment phase of her trial, instead allowing Circuit Judge Thomas Gardner to decide her fate. After a jury found her guilty, she was sentenced to death.
Michelle's case is filled with controversy. Junior confessed to the killing of his father to a court-appointed forensic psychologist, but on the witness stand, he stuck by the story of Michelle hiring a hitman. In a letter written to his mother, Edward again confesses to the crime and to making up the murder for hire story.
Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Edward Byrom Sr. Please pray for strength for the family of Michelle Byrom and that if she is innocent, it will be revealed before her execution. Please pray that Michelle may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ if she has not already found one.