Mississippi could execute its first woman in 70 years this week, putting Michelle Byrom to death for arranging the death of her allegedly abusive husband.
If the execution goes forward, Byrom would be the 19th woman executed in Mississippi, the first since 1944 and the first white woman.
Byrom was sentenced to death by lethal injection in 2000 after being convicted of arranging her husband's death with her son and a friend of his. Prosecutors said she wanted to collect $150,000 in life insurance and agreed to pay Joey Gillis $15,000.
Her advocates say her trial lawyers, handling their first death penalty case, did not introduce crucial evidence, including letters her son wrote admitting the killing. Edward Byrom Jr., who pleaded guilty to lesser charges and testified against his mother, is now out of prison.
"He slaps me, then goes back to his room. As I sat on my bed, tears of rage flowing, remembering my childhood, my anger kept building and building," the son wrote, describing his last encounter with his father.
Edward Byrom said he then got a gun, a World War II souvenir that had belonged to his grandfather, and killed his father.