Burns could be region's third man executed since 2008

TUPELO – If Joseph Daniel Burns of Belden is executed July 21, he’ll be the third Northeast Mississippian to die for his crime since the state ended a two-year hiatus on death penalties two years ago.
In 1996, a Lee County jury convicted Burns in the 1994 stabbing murder of Floyd Melvin “Mike” McBride during a robbery at the Town House Motel in Tupelo.
This week, the Mississippi Supreme Court set his execution date after 42-year-old Burns exhausted the appeals process.
His defense attorneys said they would use their efforts to seek other means to halt the lethal-injection death, including a clemency request to the governor.
“The victim’s family has waited 16 years for justice in this case,” said Attorney General Jim Hood. “We are glad they won’t have to wait much longer. Our prayers are with them and the family of Mr. Burns during this time.”
His execution would be the third for a Northeast Mississippian since 2008.
In May 2008, Earl Wesley Berry of Chickasaw County was the first person to be put to death when Mississippi resumed executions after a slow-down to deal with appeals claiming mental retardation.
Berry, 49, was convicted and sentenced to death by a Chickasaw County jury for the Nov. 29, 1987, kidnaping and murder of Mary Bounds.
The second man, Dale Leo Bishop, 34, of Guntown, was executed July 23, 2008 for the clawhammer beating death of Mark Gentry in December 1998.
Burns’ execution order came this week after his attorneys missed a deadline to oppose the attorney general’s request to set the execution date.
Glenn Swartzfager, director of the Office of Capital Post-Conviction Counsel, said it was intentionally missed.
Swartzfager said other efforts will be made to try to save Burns from execution. He declined to discuss them, saying only that a clemency request will be filed with the governor as well as a motion with the Mississippi Supreme Court requesting a mental evaluation of Burns.
Since 1976, 12 people convicted of capital murder have been executed by the state of Mississippi, four in the gas chamber and eight by lethal injection.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal