- Associated Press - Sunday, June 28, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A woman freed after 16 years on Mississippi’s death row says God helped her come to deal with the fact that until recently, her execution might come any time.

“I had come to a place of peace,” Michele Byrom, 58, told The Clarion-Ledger in her first interview after leaving prison (http://on.thec-l.com/1NqAeM1 ). “I came to peace with myself because of God.”

She said she has forgiven her son and others she feels treated her wrongly. Her son, Edward Byrom Jr., testified against her but later allegedly confessed in letters and to a psychologist.

Byrom was convicted of getting her son to hire a hit man to kill her husband for $15,000 out of an expected $150,000 life insurance payment.

The Mississippi Supreme Court ordered a new trial in March after her attorneys and news media noted that jurors never saw her son’s letters. In addition, attorneys for Joey Gillis, whom Edward Byrom described as the hit man, found a test showing gunpowder residue on Byrom’s hand, not Gillis’, and a psychologist who said Byrom had told him details about the killing.

Gillis pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact for helping Edward Byrom get rid of the gun, and has been free since 2009.

Byrom Jr., sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to commit capital murder, has been free since August 2013 on earned supervised release.

When The Clarion-Ledger questioned him by telephone, he denied he shot his father, but when asked about a psychologist’s statement that he admitted killing his father, he hung up.

Michele Byrom pleaded “no contest” Friday to a charge that she and the two men plotted to kill her husband. The charge asserts innocence but acknowledges prosecutors could probably convince a jury otherwise.

She said she’s not guilty, but accepted the plea to get out of prison.

After the brief court hearing in Tishomingo County, she and her brother didn’t stop for lunch until they got to Tennessee, she said.

She couldn’t even think of what she wanted to eat at first, but then asked to go to Burger King for a Whopper. She said that after she finished, she told her brother, Kenneth Dimitro, “I don’t remember what sex is, but this has got to be better than that.”

A stop at Wal-Mart to buy clothes was overwhelming because she was free to make so many choices, she said.

She said she planned to reach out to her son on Facebook.

“I’m going to tell him if he wants to connect, that’s fine, and that I love him,” she said. “I’ll leave it up to him.”

___

Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com

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