Mississippi is set to execute a woman for the first time in 70 years despite the fact that someone else has confessed to the crime.
State Attorney General Jim Hood has requested that Michelle Byrom be executed Thursday by lethal injection. Byrom was convicted of the 1999 murder of her husband, who was reportedly abusive to her and her family. Prosecutors argued that she orchestrated a murder-for-hire plot.
Only two of 50 people currently on death row in Mississippi are women. In nearly 200 years, the state has executed only 19 women despite putting 794 people to death.
Byrom’s son, Edward Byrom Jr., confessed four times to killing his father, three times in letters to his mother and once to a court-appointed psychologist, but his confessions were not entered as evidence at Michelle Byrom’s trial. Instead, he was able to take a plea deal in exchange for testifying against his mother at her trial. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison and was released last year.
Byrom lost an appeal to Mississippi’s Supreme Court in 2006. Her defense team has alleged that the judge at her trial was aware of her son’s confessions but concealed that evidence, according to a report by CNN.
Byrom would face lethal injection, a method that has faced controversy since the European manufacturer of the drug most often used in executions declared it would no longer sell it for that purpose. Since then, states have turned to other, sometimes untested, drugs and drug combinations. In at least one case, executions stretched far longer than average and appeared to be very painful.