TIME Crime

Mississippi Grants Michelle Byrom New Trial

Michelle Byrom, in a photo released in 2010.
Mississippi Dept. of Corrections/AP Michelle Byrom, in a photo released in 2010.

The Mississippi woman convicted of plotting her husband's murder in 2000 was granted a new trial on Monday, days after her postponed death by lethal injection would have made her the first woman executed in the state in seven decades

A Mississippi woman on Death Row was granted a new murder trial Monday by the Mississippi supreme court, days after her execution by lethal injection was postponed.

Michelle Byrom, 57, would have been the first female convict to be executed in the state since 1944, and the 54th woman to have been executed in the United States since 1900. Her capital murder conviction has been reversed, and a lower court will hear her new trial.

Prosecutors accused Byrom of plotting her abusive husband’s murder-for-hire, committed by her son’s friend Joey Gillis, to collect $350,000 and his life insurance policy, which led to her 2000 capital murder conviction.

But Byrom’s son confessed to committing the crime in three different letters, excerpts of which were published in the Jackson Free Press, written to his mother and to a court appointed psychologist. Edward Byrom Jr. recanted and testified against his mother to get a lighter sentence, and he was released from prison last year. According to the Clarion-Ledger, Byrom admitted to committing the crime after a sheriff asked if she would let her son go to jail for the crime.

“We are very grateful that the Mississippi Supreme Court has granted Michelle Byrom’s request for relief from her death sentence,” David Calder, Byrom’s attorney, said. “This was a team effort on the part of the attorneys currently representing Michelle, and we believe that the court reached a just and fair result under the facts presented in this case.”

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