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Grisham against the execution of a man not directly at fault in killing

Grisham against the execution of a man not directly at fault in killing

Dale Leo Bishop, who suffered a mental illness, has been executed at the Mississippi State Penitentiary for his role in the claw hammer killing of Marcus James Gentry.

Bishop’s attorneys said his life should have been spared because he did not swing the hammer that killed Gentry in 1998.

Bishop acknowledged participating in the attack, but another man, Jessie Johnson, admitted striking the lethal blows. Johnson was tried separately and sentenced to life without parole.

Before the execution, Gentry’s mother, Kathy, said she had no comment on Wednesday’s execution, but author John Grisham called on authorities to spare Bishop.

“He should be given life without parole in a maximum-security unit, and perhaps he could serve his time with the man who pulled the trigger,” Grisham said. “Sadly, these types of cases are not unusual. And bad defense lawyering happens every day.”

Corrections spokeswoman Tara Booth says Bishop died by lethal injection at 6:14 p.m. Wednesday with members of Gentry’s family in attendance.


  • August 20, 2008 at 5:52 PM Anita Hutchings

    I just finished The Innocent Man and reading about Dale Bishop’s execution in Mississippi is no less unnerving than reading about Ron Williamson’s untimely death resulting from the horrors he suffered at Bill Peterson’s hands. I am highly inspired by your work and frankly the reality of cases such as these are terrifying for everyone. This can happen to anyone for any reason. Especially if you are poor or indigent and can’t afford representation. This morning after finishing reading The Innocent Man less than 24 hours ago, I looked up Bill Peterson hoping to find that he had been fired or impeached, whichever is applicable in his position and found his braggadocious website instead. He is open for comment so I emailed him and let him know exactly how I, and likely others, feel about him. I hope he gets a barrage of honest, heartfelt emails and letters daily from people wanting to tell him what they actually think of him. Somehow I doubt that he gets much sympathy. I applaud your work in this area and I also hope that The Innocent Man is just your first work of non-fiction. It is a compelling book, you have the audience, and people want to know these things. If we know, maybe we can come together and illicit change.

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