SC executes Jason Scott Byram - - Columbia, South Carolina

SC executes Jason Scott Byram

Jason Scott Byram (SCDC) Jason Scott Byram (SCDC)

(Columbia) April 23, 2004 - Jason Scott Byram was executed at 6:15pm on Friday by lethal injection. 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.

That follow's the United States Supreme Court's decision last month not to hear his case on appeal.

Byram, 38, was convicted in 1995 of stabbing 36-year-old Julie Johnson to death with her own kitchen knife as she slept on a sofa in her Columbia home in 1993. Her husband and three children were asleep.

Johnson's mother, Peggy Ferrell, said she wanted at least some compassion from Byram, even if it was his final words. She says Byram was always very cold and never changed his expression. In a statement read just before his execution, Byram said he was innocent, but offered condolences to Johnson's family that read in part, "I understand they only seek justice for their daughter." 

Johnson's mother held her brother's hand as the lethal chemicals were injected into Byram.

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 victim's husband, Jeff Johnson, spoke after the execution and says justice was served, "And so what's happened here today is justice was done for the citizens of South Carolina. Not for me and not for my family. It was done for everybody out there that goes to bed at night."

Peggy Ferrell says she felt she had to witness the execution, "I have no feelings of vindictiveness, just profound sorrow that I will probably carry for the rest of my life. But today I followed through with this to fulfill something that I needed to fulfill for Julia."

Byram was convicted in 1995. He told authorities there was another man with him who struck the fatal blows, but prosecutors found his fingerprint inside the home and a DNA analysis found
Johnson's blood on a shirt in Byram's apartment. Prosecutor Barney Giese was confident the jury convicted the right man and has said there was no evidence another man was involved.

Byram was the 31th inmate sent to the death chamber since capital punishment was reinstated in the Palmetto State in 1976.

Last Friday, the state put to death 51-year-old Jerry Bridwell McWee, an Aiken County man convicted of killing a convenience store clerk in July 1991. David Clayton, convicted of the 1994 killing a Georgetown police officer, died by lethal injection in March.

Updated 10:03pm by BrettWitt with AP

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