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AG Hood says he’s following law with execution

NATCHEZ — Attorney General Jim Hood said his defense of Mississippi’s planned first execution of a woman since 1944 is a matter of duty.

“It is not something that I personally want to do, but (anti-death penalty groups) attack you like you are doing (the execution),” he said. “The Supreme Court denied this woman’s writ, and by law it says the attorney general will file a motion asking the court to set an execution date. It is the law, and when I was sworn in, I raised my right hand and said, ‘I will do it.’”

Hood made the remarks Friday at the Mississippi Oil and Gas Development in Mississippi forum in Natchez.

Michelle Byrom, 57, awaits execution for the 1999 fatal shooting of her husband, Edward Byrom Sr., in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme prosecutors said was an insurance scheme.

Michelle Byrom was convicted by a jury, but her son Edward Byrom Jr. has since confessed to the killing. Prosecutors claimed Edward Jr.’s role was limited to getting the gun used in the killing by a third party — his friend Joey Gillis — and later disposing it.

“They have begun to portray this woman as a victim of domestic violence, and she may have been, but the jury heard that evidence and made the decision, and the courts have affirmed that evidence thus far,” Hood said.

“I believe in our jury system and enforcing what they find.”

The attorney general noted Michelle Byrom gave five written confessions to the crime, three of which were thrown out by the court, though two were kept as evidence. Hood also said he hopes the State of Mississippi will soon be given a trial date to seek damages from BP for the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

BP is using legal maneuvers to stall the case, he said.

“Of course the individuals and the businesses need to be paid before the states are, but the states haven’t been given a trial date,” Hood said. “We are sitting dead in the water, and I am hoping the judge will let us out.”

Hood said he believes the case shouldn’t be in federal court.

“When that oil reached our shores, they made it a crime and created a tort upon the state, and if it was in the state courts, the case would already be settled,” he said.

“Let us have our day in court.”

Hood said he believes some individual claimants to the BP settlement got more than they deserved, but BP shouldn’t try to get the settlement modified or set aside because of it.

“That is the deal BP cut and they need to stick with it,” he said.