Last Chance to Stop Execution of Dale Leo Bishop

Dale Leo Bishop is scheduled to be killed tomorrow by the state of Mississippi -- despite the fact that he did not kill anyone, although he assisted an attack that turned into a murder. The actual murderer, oddly enough, was sentenced to life in prison; but Bishop, who is mentally ill, was sentenced to die. [For more, see previous post on this subject.]

All of his judicial appeals have been exhausted now. Outside a highly unlikely intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court, the only hope Bishop has is a commutation of his death sentence to life in prison by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

As the Jackson Clarion-Ledger points out in an excellent editorial on the case, just last week Barbour pardoned a man convicted of a heinous murder. Michael Graham walked up to his ex-wife's car at a streetlight in Pascagoula and shot her in the face with a 12-gauge shotgun, blowing her head off in front of her own father, who was standing across the street at the time. Graham had served 19 years of a life sentence for the killing when Barbour pardoned him. The reason? Graham had been a trusty, a prisoner working as a servant, in the governor's mansion.

From the Clarion-Ledger:

Trial testimony - undisputed trial testimony - indicates that Bishop was not the man swinging the hammer that delivered the fatal blows to victim's head....

If Bishop, who suffers from mental illness, receives a lethal injection on Wednesday, he would be only the eighth person put to death - and the first since 1996 - who did not directly kill the victim (not including contract killings) in the more than 1,100 executions since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

There is ample evidence that Bishop's mental illness led to his waiving rights that might have spared his life at trial. There are also allegations that his post-conviction counsel representation suppressed evidence of Bishop's mental illness....

If there is mercy in Barbour's heart for a killer like Graham who was definitely guilty of a cold-blooded, gruesome murder, then the governor shouldn't blink an eye in granting clemency to Bishop - who took part in a killing but didn't deliver the fatal blows.

Bishop didn't get a chance to serve as a domestic servant at the Governor's Mansion. Graham did. That's the apparent difference.

Bishop should at most share a jail cell for life with Jessie Johnson, the man who is serving life without parole for Gentry's murder. But he should not pay the ultimate price if he did not commit the ultimate crime.

As we noted here earlier, Barbour is a rank political hack, a lobbyist, bagman and fixer from way back. His good buddy George W. Bush has steered millions of dollars in federal money earmarked for Hurricane Katrina relief to Barbour and his corporate cronies. His pardon of Graham is all of a piece with the plutocrat's code: "Everything for me and mine, diddly-squat for everybody else."

It is not very likely than an appeal to a conscience that Barbour has shown little sign of possessing will move him to spare Dale Leo Bishop from the poison needle. However, our high and mighty officials do like to appear to be figures of great moral depth, and so occasionally they can be moved to some gesture of clemency, some show of humanity, as long as there is no significant downside to their bottom line.

Therefore, we urge you once again to send a very respectful message to Haley Barbour, asking him politely to give his profound and prayerful consideration to Dale Bishop's plea for commutation. The address is below:

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