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BY PATSY R. BRUMFIELD
Dale Leo Bishop's mother is asking anyone opposed to his execution tonight to ask Gov. Haley Barbour for mercy.
Bishop is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. for his role in the 1998 claw hammer murder-kidnapping of Marcus Gentry of Fulton.
Late Tuesday, Bishop, now 34, still had an appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court asking to stay his execution based on questions about Mississippi's lethal injection method and claims his trial and original post-conviction attorneys bungled his appeals all along the way.
But it was down to that – late in the afternoon, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans denied his appeals.
The 5th U.S. Circuit rejected a request that Bishop be allowed to argue in an appeal that one of his former lawyers suppressed evidence of his bipolar disorder and intentionally sabotaged his case. The court said that issue had been denied once and Bishop could not argue it again.
Jim Craig, Bishop's current attorney, said he will appeal the 5th Circuit ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. That would bring to three the number of Bishop's appeals pending before the nation's highest court. One of those is based on a lawsuit filed on behalf of Bishop and other death row inmates in 2007 to stop all executions in Mississippi. The inmates claimed the procedure is unconstitutional because it could cause pain.
His mother isn't waiting on judges and has taken things into her own hands.
“We have been asking all interested parties to send e-mails,” said Brenda Bishop of Guntown, “but at this late date, a phone call might do more good.”
Her son's attorneys hand-delivered a petition for clemency to Barbour's office on Friday.
They are asking the governor for leniency – either to change Bishop's death sentence to life in prison without possibility of parole, or to stay the execution while the state Parole Board considers the issue.
It's not clear if that will persuade Gov. Haley Barbour to spare Bishop's life. Barbour has not granted clemency to any of the three inmates executed since he took office in 2004.
Bishop is not Gentry's killer. That was his friend, Jessie Johnson, who is in Parchman penitentiary serving a sentence of life without possibility of parole.
Bishop, however, played enough of a role in the crime that he was charged with capital murder.
Bishop was tried first in Lee County. Johnson's trial was moved to Tishomingo County because of publicity from Bishop's trial.
Bishop was sentenced by then-Judge Frank Russell after, to the surprise of his attorneys and family, he waived a jury sentence, which could have been his opportunity to present information to persuade them to spare his life. Johnson was sentenced by a jury.
While Brenda Bishop doesn't want to speak publicly, she told the Daily Journal her family is preparing for the worst: They have made plans to be at Parchman, “if nothing is done today.”
She said her family also has sent e-mails to Barbour asking for Dale Bishop's clemency.
Bishop would be the second man executed in the state this year, both from Northeast Mississippi.
The first was Earl Wesley Berry of Chickasaw County.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596