TIME Capital Punishment

Mississippi Moves to Execute First Female Convict in 7 Decades

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

Mississippi's attorney general has asked the state's top court to set an execution date for Michelle Byrom, who murdered her husband in 1999 and who would become the first woman put to death there since 1944

Mississippi will execute its first female death row inmate in seven decades this week, if the state Supreme Court approves the Thursday date requested by the attorney general.

Attorney General Jim Hood requested Tuesday that Michelle Byrom be executed by lethal injection for the 1999 murder of her husband, Edward Byrom Sr. If the state Supreme Court, which has the final say on executions, confirms the date, Byrom will be the first woman put to death in the state since 1944.

Byrom, who is one of two women on death row in Mississippi, was convicted of killing her husband, who was, according to many accounts, abusive to her and her family. But according to the Jackson, Miss. Clarion-Ledger, Byrom only admitted guilt when the sheriff asked if she was going to allow her son to take the rap for the murder. “No, he’s not going to. I wouldn’t let him. … I will take all the responsibility,” she said, according to the paper.

Byrom’s son, Edward Byrom Jr., confessed to killing his abusive father four times – in three letters smuggled to his mother in jail, and once to a court-appointed psychologist – CNN reports. Byrom’s attorneys, who were trying their first capital murder case, never had the confessions entered into evidence, and Byrom Jr. took a plea deal for a reduced sentence.

The son’s reported confessions are among the chief reasons Byrom’s advocates believe she deserves a stay of execution. The fact that a jury never heard any of Byrom Jr.’s confessions is a “perversion of American jurisprudence,” according to Warren Yoder, executive director of the Public Policy Center of Mississippi.

According to the Clarion-Ledger, only 53 women have been executed in the United States since 1900, and if Byrom is put to death, she would be only the fifth woman executed in the past ten years. But former state Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr. believes Byrom should get a new trial. “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,” Diaz told CNN. “In this case, she didn’t have either one.”

[Jackson Clarion-Ledger]

TIME Base Jumping

WATCH: BASE Jumpers Leap Off One World Trade Center

Four thrill-seekers are charged with felony burglary, misdemeanor reckless endangerment and misdemeanor jumping from a structure after three of them parachuted from the Freedom Tower last September

Three men who are accused of parachuting from the top of One World Trade Center in September turned themselves in to authorities Monday, and released a video of their death-defying leap from the tallest building in the western hemisphere.

The video of the stunt was shot by a helmet camera and shows one of the men plummeting from the 1,776-ft building before pulling the rip cord, then landing on a nearly empty street in lower Manhattan.

James Brady, 32; Andrew Rossig, 33; Marko Markovich, 27; along with Kyle Hartwell, 29 – who is accused of being the ground man of the operation – were charged with felony burglary, misdemeanor reckless endangerment and misdemeanor jumping from a structure on Monday. The four men pleaded not guilty and were released on bail. They could face up to seven years in prison if convicted of all charges.

New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said that surveillance cameras captured the jump, and police used the footage to track down the men in a six-month investigation. “Just a little snippet of video that we had of someone landing on the West Side Highway with a parachute around 4 a.m.,” Bratton told New York’s WABC-TV. “That’s all we had to work with initially.”

TIME Crime

2 Dead in Virginia Navy Base Shooting

Security officers killed a male civilian suspect after a shooting Monday night aboard the guided-missile destroyer U.S.S. Mahan at Naval Station Norfolk, the world's largest navy base. Officials say the suspect was allowed on the base but aren't sure he was cleared for the ship

The world’s largest navy base was briefly on lockdown Monday night after a sailor was fatally shot and security forces killed a male civilian suspect on board a guided-missile destroyer at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.

According to a base spokeswoman speaking to the AP, the shooting occurred around 11:20 pm on Monday night on board the U.S.S. Mahan, a guided-missile destroyer that had returned to Norfolk in September after an eight-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea, where it had been positioned for a potential strike against Syria.

Navy officials offered few details about the shooting other than that both the sailor killed and the civilian suspect were men. Officials said the suspect was authorized access to the base; however, the spokeswoman said she could not say whether the suspect had permission to be aboard the ship.

The shooting briefly caused a lockdown on the base, which is home to more than 46,000 military members, 21,000 civilians and contractors, and is the home port for 64 ships. By Tuesday morning, operations on the base had returned to normal, and an investigation into the shooting was ongoing.

[AP]

TIME

Japan to Turn Over Nuclear Cache to U.S.

Japan will hand over a decades-old stockpile of material large enough to build dozens of nuclear weapons in President Obama's biggest success yet in securing nuclear materials

Japan will turn over to the United States a stockpile of material large enough to build dozens of nuclear weapons, in the biggest success yet in President Barack Obama’s efforts to secure dangerous material.

On Monday, Japan will announce that it will hand over more than 700 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium and a large amount of highly-enriched uranium that is estimated at 450 pounds, the New York Times reports. American officials have been quietly pressing Japan to turn over the material, which is reportedly protected insufficiently, and the country has more than nine tons of plutonium stored at various locations throughout the country.

Some right-wing politicians in Japan see the stockpile as a deterrent, arguing that if the world knows Japan has the ability to turn nuclear material into weapons it is less likely to be attacked. Obama’s initiative has focused on securing nuclear material and pushing countries to harden their security to prevent it from falling into the hands of terrorists, and the Obama administration is hailing Japan’s decision to hand over its material as a success.

“This is the biggest commitment to remove fissile materials in the history of the summit process that President Obama launched,” Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall of the National Security Council told the Times. “It is a demonstration of Japan’s shared leadership on nonproliferation.”

[NYT]

TIME Crime

7 Wounded in San Francisco Drive-By Shooting

Authorities are searching for a shooter after seven people were shot in the city's Tenderloin neighborhood on Sunday night. The victims were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries

Police in San Francisco are searching for whoever wounded seven people in an apparent drive-by shooting on Sunday night, according to local media.

Sgt. Danielle Newman told NBC Bay Area that officers responded to reports of gunfire in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood just before 9 p.m. and that it may have been the aftermath of a fight. Seven people were transported to San Francisco General Hospital and treated for gunshot wounds, mostly to their extremities. None of the victims’ injuries is considered life-threatening.

The make and model of the shooter’s car was unknown, the San Francisco Chronicle reports, and no arrests have been made yet.

[NBC Bay Area]

TIME College Basketball

March Madness Begins with a Bang: Comebacks, Upsets and Buzzer Beaters

Aaron Craft of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts after losing to the Dayton Flyers 60-59 in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the First Niagara Center on March 20, 2014 in Buffalo, N.Y.
Aaron Craft of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts after losing to the Dayton Flyers 60-59 in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the First Niagara Center on March 20, 2014 in Buffalo, N.Y. Jared Wickerham—Getty Images

The first full day of the 2014 NCAA college basketball tournament brought enough comebacks and buzzer beaters to satisfy big-time basketball fans. But it's the upsets that ultimately prove anything can happen

On paper, the 2014 NCAA tournament featured a tough field and no shortage of story lines for basketball fans—Wichita State went into the tournament undefeated at 34-0, Florida was a favorite in many pools, a surging Louisville looked to defend its title from a tough draw and a No. 4 seed. But when it comes to the opening rounds of March Madness, anything is possible, and the tournament’s first full day didn’t disappoint.

Thursday brought enough comebacks, buzzer beaters and upsets to satisfy big-time basketball fans. A scrappy North Dakota State Bison squad played neck and neck with No. 5 seed Oklahoma, taking the Sooners into overtime, and ultimately shocking Oklahoma 80-75. Junior guard Lawrence Alexander scored 28 points to help the Bison to their first NCAA tournament win.

In another upset, Ivy League champion Harvard, playing as a No. 12 seed, took down No. 5 seed Cincinnati 61-57. Harvard never trailed after the game’s opening moments, and played tough down the line to earn a victory in two consecutive NCAA tournaments. Last year, Harvard, playing as a No. 14 seed, upset New Mexico.

But the opening round can’t be kind to every would-be Cinderella team. N0. 4 seed Louisville squeaked past Manhattan 71-64, after the defending national champs were down by three points with less than four minutes remaining in the game. Later, No. 5 seed St. Louis rallied from a 14-point deficit to come back and beat North Carolina State in overtime.

And then there was the buzzer-beater. After a missed three pointer with time expiring, Texas needed a last-second layup to put Arizona State out of the tournament.

Day 1 also saw strong teams taking care of business: No. 1 seed Florida handled Albany 67-55 and No. 2 seed Michigan had little trouble dispatching Wofford 57-40. The other half of the field takes to the court on Friday to close out the opening round of what has already been an exciting start to March Madness.

TIME White House

Obama to Meet Tech CEOs Concerned By NSA Snooping

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks on economic opportunity for women and working families at Valencia College in Orlando, Fla., on March 20, 2014.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks on economic opportunity for women and working families at Valencia College in Orlando, Fla., on March 20, 2014. Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images

The president will speak with bigwigs to continue his dialogue with them about privacy and intelligence amid mounting concerns about government surveillance. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, invited to the meeting, has been particularly critical of the eavesdropping

President Barack Obama will meet with tech CEOs on Friday to discuss privacy concerns that have mushroomed within the industry after a spate of revelations about the NSA’s massive domestic surveillance programs.

Obama hopes to “continue his dialogue” with the leaders of some of the biggest tech companies “on the issues of privacy, technology, and intelligence,” a White House official told Politico. The White House did not release a full list of the tech leaders on Obama’s schedule, but the heads of Google, Facebook and Yahoo were extended invitations. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be part of the huddle, but Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who previously met with Obama in December, will not be able to make the trip.

Zuckerberg has been particularly vocal in his criticism of government surveillance. “The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat,” he wrote on his Facebook page on March 13. “They need to be much more transparent about what they’re doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst.” Zuckerberg said that he called Obama to voice his frustration. “Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform,” he wrote.

Obama’s meeting with tech leaders comes as the Administration is weighing how to reform programs that sparked an uproar when they were revealed by leaker and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Obama is expected to announce reforms soon to a program that gathers so-called metadata on Americans’ phone records, and Congress is working on several bills that could refine existing surveillance programs.

[Politico]

TIME Crime

Cops Find 100 People in Texas Home in Apparent Smuggling Bust

Suspected Human Smuggling Houston
Authorities search people, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in southeast Houston. Cody Duty—Houston Chronicle/AP

Police in Houston find more than 100 people crammed into a 1,500-square-foot, single-family house while searching for a woman who was reported missing. Most are from Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador

Houston police searching for a woman who had been reported missing by her family discovered a house overflowing with more than 100 people Wednesday in what appeared to be part of a human smuggling operation.

Police discovered the home just outside Houston while searching for a 24-year-old woman who had been reported missing, along with her two young children, the Associated Press reports. When they searched the home, they found 94 men—all in their undergarments and without shoes—and 15 women (including the missing woman and her children) in a 1,500-square-foot house. The people were lying in filth in several small rooms with access to only one bathroom, the AP reports.

Police spokesman John Cannon said most of the people had been in the home for a few days, and one woman said she had been there more than two weeks. “It was just filth, very squalid-like conditions inside,” Cannon said. “Trash bags with clothing piled as high as you can see. … Some were just sitting on top of one another because there was just no room.”

Houston police handed over investigation of the matter to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which said the people in the home were primarily from Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador. A pregnant woman and a man were taken to the hospital for treatment, and all others will be fed and questioned. A spokesman for ICE told the AP it was too early in the investigation to say whether the house was part of a human trafficking operation, but it appeared that way.

The ICE spokesman also said it has been years since police discovered a house in the Houston area with that many people inside; in 2012, police found a house containing 86 people.

[AP]

TIME Asia

10 Dead in Coordinated Attacks in Eastern Afghanistan

Afghan policemen remove the dead body of a Taliban insurgent from the site of a suicide car bomb attack in Jalalabad province, March 20, 2014.
Afghan policemen remove the dead body of a Taliban insurgent from the site of a suicide car bomb attack in Jalalabad province, March 20, 2014. Parwiz—Reuters

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for a series of coordinated, deadly attacks on a police compound in Jalalabad, just weeks before the presidential elections. The provincial governor said the attacks "will not weaken our morale"

Militants in eastern Afghanistan launched a brazen series of pre-dawn attacks on Thursday at a police facility in Jalalabad, leaving 10 officers dead.

The attack, which killed the district police chief and wounded 14 officers, began at about 5 a.m. when a car laden with explosives breached the gate of the police headquarters, the New York Times reports. After the initial blast, six bombers stormed the facility. Government officials said two were killed before they could detonate their explosives, but the others managed to ignite their devices. That kicked off a three-hour gun battle inside the compound.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack that comes weeks before the presidential elections on April 5, which it has vowed to disrupt. Militants have carried out attacks against civilians in recent weeks, but government officials publicly insist they won’t be intimidated as candidates travel the country before the ballot. “Such attacks on our security forces will not weaken our morale,” Attullah Lodin, Nangarhar Province’s governor, told the Times. “I assure you that we continue to fight the enemies.”

Thursday’s attack underscores critical security issues ahead of the planned withdrawal of foreign forces at the end of the year. The United States has discussed keeping thousands of troops in Afghanistan, but Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a bilateral security agreement and will leave it to his successor.

[NYT]

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser