Woman freed after 15 years on death row hours before execution

Wrongly convicted of the murder of her abusive husband

Abused for Years and Almost Executed: One Woman's Story
"Forgive them, for they know not what they do." These were almost the last words of a woman who was spared death by lethal injection just hours before her execution - for a crime she was wrongly convicted of.

"These were my last words," she says. "Believe it or not, I was at peace."

Michelle Byrom, 57, from Mississippi, spent 15 years on death row for the murder of her physically abusive husband.

She was sentenced in 2000, and her incarceration continued even after her son confessed to murdering the man who abused him and his mother.

In March 2014, hours before her execution, Michelle heard she was going to get a new trial.

On June 26, she was finally set free after the court re-examined her case and determined that there were serious errors made during her trial.

Abusive marriage

Michelle met her former husband, Edward Byrom Sr. when she was 17 and he was 32. Five years later they were married and had a son.

But Edward became abusive. He beat her up regularly, once even making her ingest rat poison.

She says: "My husband sexually, physically and mentally abused me. I left several times and he always found me. And when he found me, the beatings, they were bad."

In June of 1999, Edward, then 58, was found murdered in his own bed. At the time, Michelle, then 42, confessed to the crime, hoping to protect her son who was a suspect.

Her son later confessed to the murder to a court-appointed psychiatrist. He pointed police to the murder weapon and tested positive for gunpowder residue on his hands. But that information wasn't brought up in court.