Friday, April 30, 2004

April 23, 2004


Last meal: Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, collard greens, corn bread, banana pudding, cherry cheesecake, apple cobbler and sweet iced tea.

The skinny: Byram, 38, was executed for the murder of an elementary school teacher, who specializing in emotionally handicapped children with special needs.

More skinny: The woman was dozing on her living room couch with her husband and three children asleep upstairs. Byram broke and entered through her kitchen window, took her purse and stole her van. Hours later, Byram came back to steal a TV and VCR. Upon his return, he woke the woman and stabbed her repeatedly with a butcher knife from the kitchen. After she was stabbed, she made it to the front yard where her husband and a police officer heard her final words. She died on the way to the hospital.

When Byram was arrested later that afternoon, he admitted to police he had entered the home and stabbed her to keep her quiet, but said it was an accomplice named "Jim" who stabbed her repeatedly and killed her. Byram's fingerprint was found at the scene of the murder, and an eyewitness testified they saw him after the murder driving a van with blood on his shirt and no passengers. No evidence of an accomplice was ever found. The jury decided he had none.

Hold the juice: Earlier this month, Byram changed his mind shortly after asking to be put to death in the electric chair, which he thought would be less painful, saying he did not want to put witnesses through the stress of watching him die in the electric chair.

The last inmate to choose to die in the electric chair in this state was Larry Gene Bell in 1996. Bell was convicted of murdering 2 young girls. Before Bell, mass murderer Donald "Pee Wee" Gaskins was executed in the electric chair in 1991 - before the state lethal injection as an option.

Legal Machinations: A final appeal to stay the scheduled execution was denied by the South Carolina Supreme Court on Thursday. Byram's attorneys had appealed to the court to stop the execution because the jury who sentenced him to death never got a chance to hear specific evidence about abuse during Byram's childhood.

Last words and such: Byram was dressed in a green jumpsuit. Inside the death chamber, Byram’s attorney Jay Elliott read a statement attributed to Byram: “While I maintain my innocence, I do want to express my condolences to the family of Mrs. Johnson, and I fully understand they only seek justice for their daughter.” In the statement, Byram also expressed his appreciation to the S.C. Department of Corrections concerning his treatment. It concluded with a reading of John 3:16 and the words, “I believe.” Byram then turned his head to the left and mouthed a few words to the witnesses.

Quote: As previously noted, the victim had been an elementary school teacher for about 12 years here. She taught students with emotional disturbances or behavior problems. Those symptoms could have put a student like Byram in her class, her mother said, "Julie would've been the first to reach out and help him."


Byram was the....

24th murderer executed in U.S. in 2004
909th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
3rd murderer executed in South Carolina in 2004
31st murderer executed in South Carolina since 1976