Barring intervention from the Butts County Superior Court in the next two hours, Joshua Bishop will be killed by the state tonight.
Earlier this morning, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency to the 41-year old inmate after weighing his life overnight. Bishop’s lawyers filed a last-ditch appeal Tuesday, arguing that the jury that convicted Bishop over 20 years ago did not explicitly find that Bishop “killed, intended to kill, or intended to aid in the killing of Leverett Morrison.”
As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, Bishop’s brief argues his “death sentence is unlawful and his execution would constitute a miscarriage of justice… because he is constitutionally ineligible for capital punishment.”
On June 25, 1994, Joshua Bishop, Leverett Morrison, and Mark Braxley capped off a night at a bar in Milledgeville by smoking crack at Braxley’s trailer. After Morrison fell asleep, the 36 year old Braxley decided to visit his girlfriend in Morrison’s Jeep and told the 19 year old Bishop to “get them keys.” Morrison woke up; Joshua Bishop hit him over the head with a closet rod to send him back to sleep. Bishop and Braxley continued to beat him up. They buried Leverett Morrison between dumpsters.
Bishop and Braxley both confessed to their crime, though Braxley arranged a guilty plea that secured life in prison with the possibility of parole. In the course of their confession, they also admitted to killing Ricky Lee Wills two weeks before as punishment for bragging about sexually assaulting Bishop’s mother. They bent Wills’ legs into an unnatural shape to fit him in an unmarked grave.
Four jurors from Bishop’s 1996 trial submitted affidavits stating they had been led to believe Mark Braxley would also be up for the death penalty; had they known Braxley would have the possibility of parole, they would not have voted to execute Joshua Bishop. “If I had known that Mark Braxley would be given such a light sentence, I would not have voted for the death penalty for Josh” wrote one.
For his last meal, Bishop has requested a barbecue sandwich, Brunswick stew, potato chips, coleslaw, lemonade, and purple candy.
As I’ve said before, in a democracy, the ultimate responsibility for a government’s actions rests with its citizens. Tonight, Joshua Bishop will die in our name.