Mississippi is preparing to execute its first woman in 70 years—for a crime her son repeatedly confessed to. Michelle Byrom, 57, was found guilty of hiring a friend of her son's to kill her husband in 1999, but jurors were never shown letters in which son Edward Byrom Jr. told his mother how he had killed his father, or heard from a psychologist who said the son spoke of killing his father, the Clarion-Ledger finds. Edward Jr., who testified against his mother, was sentenced to 30 years for conspiracy but is now free on supervised release.
Byrom's lawyers failed to submit mitigating evidence on her behalf showing that she "suffered a lifetime of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse," or that she suffered numerous ailments including a mental disorder that caused her to swallow rat poison. "John Grisham couldn't write this story," the director of the Public Policy Center of Mississippi tells the Jackson Free Press. Former state Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr., who favored a new trial for Byrom, says he is appalled that the state plans to execute her this week. "There’s no way justice was done in this case," he says. "If an execution is allowed to proceed, we all are complicit in it in Mississippi." (More Mississippi stories.)