Death row inmate Michelle Byrom, 57, is seen in a Mississippi Department of Corrections photo taken January 11, 2011.Mississippi Department of Corrections/Handout via Reuters
Prosecutors said Byrom hired her son's friend, Joey Gillis, to shoot her husband. They argued her son's only role was to secure the weapon and dispose of it. Michelle Byrom confessed to the crime. But she now says she was just trying to protect her son, Edward Byrom Jr., who testified against her in exchange for a lesser charge.
The jury that found Michelle Byrom guilty never heard from a state-appointed forensic psychologist who told the judge before trial that the son had admitted to the murder, according to Voisin. The judge also withheld that evidence from Byrom's defense attorneys at the time, Voisin said.
Barred from the trial, too, were two letters the son wrote to his mother describing how he killed his father after finally snapping from years of abuse.
"I walked about two steps in the door, and screamed, and shut my eyes, (and) when I heard him move, I started firing," one letter read. The judge did not allow the letters to be presented to jurors because defense attorneys failed to share them with the prosecution before the trial, Voisin said.
Gillis pleaded guilty to conspiracy and accessory after the fact to capital murder.
Michelle Byrom's son pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit capital murder, accessory before the fact to grand larceny and accessory before the fact to burglary. Both men are now free after serving prison time.
In a statement, Hood said he was following state law by seeking an execution date after a death-row inmate exhausts all state and federal remedies.