Mississippi Woman on Death Row Gets Retrial

Michelle Byrom says she only confessed to protect her son
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2014 4:35 PM CDT
Updated Mar 31, 2014 5:03 PM CDT
Mississippi Woman on Death Row Gets Retrial
This Dec. 29, 2010 photo released by the Mississippi Dept. of Corrections shows Michelle Byrom.    (AP Photo/Mississippi Department of Corrections, HO)

A Mississippi woman is glimpsing a ray of sunlight after 14 years on death row. Days after her official execution date, the state Supreme Court today ruled that Michelle Byrom, 57, will be retried, CNN reports. Byrom was convicted 14 years ago of masterminding the murder of her allegedly abusive husband. But her son, Edward Byrom Jr., confessed to the killings in jailhouse letters. He later recanted, and Byrom confessed to the killings, but now says she did so only to protect her son from murder charges, Reuters reports.

Byrom's husband was shot dead at home in Mississippi in 1999 while she was in a hospital with double pneumonia. In his testimony, Byrom Jr. said his mother paid one of his friends $15,000 to commit the murder. Byrom took her attorney's advice and let a judge sentence her rather than a jury, but the judge sentenced her to death. It's pretty rare for US women to be executed, Reuters notes: Only 14 have been put to death since 1976, compared to 1,400 men. Byrom is one of two women among 50 death-row inmates in Mississippi. (More capital punishment stories.)

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