Mississippi's Michelle Byrom won't be executed Thursday

Mississippi's Michelle Byrom won't be executed Thursday
CNN
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Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 1:53pm

A mother convicted of a murder to which her son has confessed multiple times will not be executed Thursday, as the Mississippi Supreme Court continues to review her post-conviction motion.

Byrom's motion for the court is still pending, and there is no word on when the court's decision may be made, according to court spokeswoman Beverly Pettigrew Kraft.

Attorney General Jim Hood had requested the 57-year-old death row inmate be executed "on or before (the date of) March 27," Kraft said. The Mississippi Supreme Court has the final say on execution dates and they haven't yet issued a decision on the attorney general's request.

During Michelle Byrom's original trial, prosecutors said she plotted to kill her husband, Edward Byrom Sr. He was fatally shot in his home in Iuka, Mississippi, in 1999 while Michelle was in the hospital receiving treatment for double pneumonia, but a jury convicted her based on evidence and testimony, saying she was the mastermind.

Byrom Jr. admitted in jailhouse letters that he committed the murder on his own after growing tired of his father's physical and verbal abuse, and a court-appointed psychologist has said that Byrom Jr. gave him a similar story.

On the stand, Byrom Jr. pinned the murder on one of his friends, whom he said his mother hired for $15,000.

Following her attorney's advice, Michelle Byrom waived her right to a jury sentencing, allowing the judge to decide her fate. He sentenced her to death.

Michelle Byrom's attorney has now filed a motion asking the court for additional discovery so the confession to the court-appointed psychologist can be fully explored.

Additionally, attorneys want to depose the prosecutor from her trial, Arch Bullard, regarding his knowledge of Byrom Jr.'s confession to the psychologist.

Bullard has told CNN that he firmly believes Michelle Byrom was the mastermind of the murder-for-hire plot.

According to those familiar with the process, the Supreme Court typically issues opinions at 1:30 p.m. on Thursdays. The nine-member court could issue a decision regarding the Byrom case Thursday, but there is no requirement on the timeline for the decision.

If the court decides to accept the execution request, Byrom would not be immediately executed. There are procedural steps the state Department of Corrections would first need to follow, including preparing the chamber and moving the inmate. 

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