Michelle Byrom UPDATE: State Wants Explanation

On March 31st, 2014, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed Michelle Byrom‘s death sentence and ordered a new trial with a new judge.

Before the case could be remanded to the circuit court, the State filed a motion to the Supreme Court, asking for explanations about the reasoning behind the Byrom decision. The office of state Attorney General Jim Hood wrote that “there is an absolute need to know (…) to avoid the same errors at the new trial.”

“Without knowing what this court considers to be reversible error in this case, where each and every issue has been previously found not to be error the prosecution and the trial court will be at a loss with how to proceed on the various issues that will surely arise once again,” he continued.

Among the numerous failures in her case, Byrom’s attorneys argued especially:

  • The confession of her son to the court-appointed psychologist that he murdered his abusive father by himself was not reported to the defense attorneys but revealed after her trial;
  • The defense counsel failed to disclose two letters to the prosecution prior to trial, in which her son confessed his crime again and described how and why he killed his father;
  • The defense counsel failed to present the overwhelming mitigating circumstances to the court during the sentencing phase of the trial and didn’t call any witnesses;
  • The defense counsel persuaded Byrom to waive her right to have a jury determine her sentence even though only one juror with a dissenting voice was enough to avoid death penalty;
  • Only her son was found with gunpowder residue on his hands and not the hitman she could have allegedly hired.

We can suppose that all of those arguments impacted the Supreme Court’s decision.

We’ll keep you posted on any new developments in this case as they come up. Follow NCADP on Twitter and Facebook for breaking news updates on this and other death penalty cases.

Source: National Coalition to End the Death Penalty