January 14, 2014 9:09:47 AM
JACKSON -- The U.S. Supreme Court consideration of an appeal from a woman on Mississippi's death row has been delayed.
Court records show the Supreme Court has made a record request, which means one or more justices wants to see more than just the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' opinion, which is usually attached to the petition.
It means court consideration of Michelle Byrom's petition is on hold -- perhaps for weeks or longer -- until the record -- court transcripts, exhibits and other items -- is received and the case is rescheduled.
Byrom says she deserves a new trial because her original lawyer failed to present what could have been mitigating evidence of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her husband, as well as physical abuse as a child. A national organization representing battered women has filed a friend of the court brief in Byrom's support.
Prosecutors argue that the abuse issue was raised at her trial and was considered by the same judge who sentenced her to death. Both state and federal courts have already denied Byrom's appeal for a new trial.
Court records show Edward Byrom Sr., an electrician, was shot June 4, 1999, at the couple's home in Iuka, in Tishomingo County. Prosecutors say Michelle Byrom planned to pay a hit man $15,000 with proceeds from a $150,000 insurance policy, and that she checked herself into a hospital on the day of the killing to provide herself with an alibi. Her son confessed to helping her plot the killing and testified against his mother.
Byrom, now 56, was convicted of capital murder in 2000. In a rare move, she asked Circuit Judge Thomas Gardner, instead of the jury, to decide whether she should serve life in prison or be put to death. Gardner sentenced her to death. She is one of two women and 50 inmates all together currently on death row in Mississippi.
Byrom appealed to a federal judge in Mississippi in 2011 and before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans earlier this year. She lost both appeals.