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Dale Leo Bishop - Mississippi Execution - July 23, 2008
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Thread: Dale Leo Bishop - Mississippi Execution - July 23, 2008

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    Dale Leo Bishop - Mississippi Execution - July 23, 2008




    Facts of the Crime:
    Convicted and sentenced to death in the December 10, 1998 murder of Marcus James Gentry.

    Bishop, Jessie Johnson, Marcus Gentry, and Ricky Myhand were riding around and drinking beer one evening. An argument began after Johnson accused Gentry of getting Johnson's brother in trouble with the law. The two exchanged words and then Johnson hit Gentry over the head with a hammer. When Gentry jumped from the car and fled, Bishop ran after him and took him back to the car, where he was hit and kicked numerous times. Myhand reported the killing to police and led investigators to the body. He was not charged. At trial, a forensic pathologist testified there were 23 injuries to the head, neck and hand produced by a blunt object, such as a hammer. Bishop told a judge at his sentencing hearing he wanted to be sentenced to death instead of having a jury decide whether he would get life without parole or the death penalty. Johnson, who was tried separately, is serving life in prison.

    Victim: Marcus James Gentry

    Time of Death: 6:14 pm

    Manner of Execution: Lethal Injection

    Final Meal: three pieces of pineapple supreme pizza, cherries-and-cream ice cream and four root beers

    Final Words: "To Mark's family, I would like to express my sincerest apologies. It was a senseless act. It was a needless act. The world is worse off without him. To my family, I love you. It's going to be all good." He finished by referring to Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential hopeful. "For those who oppose the death penalty and want to see it end, our best bet is to vote for Barack Obama because his supporters have been working behind the scenes to end this practice. God bless America; it's been great living here. That's all."

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    July 23, 2008

    Bishop apologizes in final hours

    Before he was executed by the state, death row inmate Dale Leo Bishop apologized to the family of his victim. "He said it was a senseless act," state corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said.

    Bishop was pronounced dead by lethal injection at 6:14 p.m. He was convicted in 2000 of participating in the murder of Marcus Gentry. Gentry was beaten to death in December 1998 with a claw hammer, and his body was found along a logging road near Saltillo. Bishop's last words were: "God bless America. It has been great living here. That's all."

    Many of Gentry's family members came to Parchman today. His mother Kathy Gentry and uncle Gerald Gentry witnessed the execution. They did not speak to the media, but a victim's advocate read a written statement from them. "We had to relive all the memories and emotions from that December," part of the statement said. "The pain and loss that this man helped put on us will never be forgotten. We lost Mark not by chance but by the choice of two ungodly men."

    The other man convicted of Gentry's murder, Jessie Johnson, is serving a life sentence.

    Bishop showed regret for the murder he participated in — and for asking for a death sentence — today, officials said. "He wants to live, as least that's what he indicated to us," Epps said this afternoon. "He said when he asked to be sentenced to death he was at a low point in his life. He was getting separated and his wife was taking their three kids."

    A request for clemency from Gov. Haley Barbour and last-ditch appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court were all denied today. Daryl Neely, policy adviser for Gov. Haley Barbour, said Bishop was writing in his cell this afternoon when he and Epps visited. "One of the things he wrote was, 'A man who takes no action has no regret,'" Neely said. "I asked him what that meant, and he admitted there are some things in his life he regrets." Helping kill 22-year-old Gentry was one of them.

    "He said it was a fight that went too far, that Marcus Gentry was his friend," Neely said. Testimony from that night indicated Johnson, Gentry, Bishop and Ricky Myhand were riding around and drinking beer on the evening of the killing and an argument began after Johnson accused Gentry of getting Johnson's brother in trouble with the law. According to testimony, the two exchanged words and then Johnson hit Gentry over the head with a hammer. When Gentry jumped from the car and fled, Bishop ran after him and took him back to the car, where he was hit and kicked numerous times. Myhand reported the killing to police and led investigators to the body. He was not charged.

    Johnson was the only one who hit Gentry with the hammer, according to testimony. In a Dec. 13, 1998, statement, Bishop acknowledged holding Gentry while Johnson struck him. Johnson, who was tried separately, is serving life in prison. At trial, forensic pathologist Steven Hayne testified there were 23 injuries to the head, neck and hand produced by a blunt object, such as a hammer.

    Bishop’s mother, Brenda Bishop had this week asked people to pray for her son. She and other family members were with him today. About 15 anti-death penalty protesters gathered near the Parchman visitor center this evening. Many of them are college students from across the country and England who are part of an activist group. "I'm very much against the death penalty because I think it is unjust, cruel and fundamentally wrong," said 21-year-old Rizwana Mahood, a law student from London's Bournemouth University. "There are so many flaws in the system to have a perfect punishment."

    Regular anti-death penalty protester Father Greg Plata from St. Francis in Greenwood was also among the group. He also protested Wesley Earl Berry's execution in May. "This decision of the governor's not granting pardon from the death penalty just continues to make Mississippi look bad," Plata said.

    (Source: Clarion Ledger)

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    From crime scene to dead man walking

    By Jim Clark
    The Lee County Courier

    It’s rare when the same law enforcement officers stay on the case from crime scene to fulfillment of the death penalty.

    “We checked back and we can’t think of any instance when a sheriff was on the case from start to end,” Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said. “It’s very odd, knowing the way the justice system works and the way the death sentence is handed out, for an officer to be called to the scene, make an arrest, get the indictment, carry it through court, have the death penalty handed out, and later that officer be elected sheriff, to where he has the opportunity to witness that death sentence completed.”

    In December 1998, Johnson, and his chief deputy, John Hall, both investigators at the time, responded to a murder scene just outside the Saltillo city limits. The body of Marcus James Gentry was discovered at the edge of some woods just off a dirt road.

    “I’ve seen a lot of cases when I’ve been called to crime scenes where the victim is dead, where it’s horrifying, where it’s as gruesome as you can imagine,” Johnson said. “But this one was the most bloody crime scene I’ve ever worked and I’ve worked a bunch of them.”

    Gentry had been beaten about the head, neck and upper body with a hammer.

    He had been riding around, drinking beer, with Dale Bishop, Jessie Johnson and Ricky Myhand. Johnson accused Gentry of getting his brother in trouble with the law. Gentry denied it. Then Johnson pulled out a hammer and hit Gentry in the head.

    “Mr. Johnson kept referring to that 28 ounce California framing hammer,” the sheriff said. “That you can’t buy them around here and the claws are straight.”

    Gentry tried to escape by jumping from the car and running. Bishop ran after him, caught him, dragged him back where he was hit with the hammer and kicked numberous times.

    Myhand made the 911 call.

    At the trial, a forensic pathologist testified there were 23 injuries to the head, neck and hand.

    “There were two separate trials,” Johnson said. “Jesse decided to go to trial. He did not want to work out a plea. They changed the venue and moved the trial to Tishomingo county. We were up there for a week. He was found guilty. The jury picks the sentence and they picked life.”

    Bishop refused to allow a jury to sentence him after he was convicted of capital murder. He asked Circuit Court Judge Frank Russell for the death penalty.

    “And I’ll never forget the judge’s words, he said ‘well I’m probably going to grant your request,’” Johnson said. He was sentenced in 2000. The death penalty was carried out in 2008.

    During the sentencing George Wes Bishop, the younger brother of Dale, stood up and said, “I’ll be there with you one day.”

    In 2001, George, struck Jimmy Doug Merchant dead with a hammer. Judge Thomas Gardner gave him the maximum 20-year sentence for manslaughter but suspended seven of the years.

    He has since been paroled.

    Part of the Mississippi state law requires that when someone is put to death, the sheriff, from the county where the crime occurred, must witness the execution.

    “There is a clause that in an emergency I can get permission to send another officer to take my place,” Johnson said. “In this particular case, I sent my chief deputy, John. So he went.”

    But the sheriff has watched an execution.

    Joseph Daniel “Jo Jo” Burns was sentenced to lethal injection for the beating and stabbing death of Floyd McBride, at the Town House Motel in Tupelo.

    “I remember the trip to the execution chamber,” Johnson said. “The reality hits. You’re there in the room with the victim’s family. You hear the suspect’s last words and see the execution carried out. His last words were ‘Mom, don’t worry about me’ and then he looked at the victim’s family and said, ‘I hope some how you can forgive me.’”

    In the case of Bishop he ordered three pieces of pineapple supreme pizza, cherries and cream ice cream and four root beers for his last meal.

    His last words were, “To Mark’s family, I would like to express my sincerest apologies. It was a senseless act. It was a needless act. The world is worse off without him. To my family, I love you. It’s going to be all good. For those who oppose the death penalty and want to see it end, our best bet is to vote for Barack Obama because his supporters have been working behind the scenes to end this practice. God bless America; it’s been great living here. That’s all.”

    He was pronounced dead by lethal injection at 6:14 p.m. July 23, 2008.

    “It’s totally different when you’re watching someone’s life being taken, simply because of a choice they made years ago,” Johnson said. “You can only hope and pray that they’ve somewhat changed. It’s humbling. It’s a very somber moment.”

    Eight other convicted murderers have been put to death, since Burns in 2010, in Mississippi.

    “I still support the death penalty even after seeing it carried out,” Johnson said. “I believe it’s a deterrent. I think things would be worse if we didn’t have it as an option.”

    Two from Lee County remain on death row, Derrick Demond Walker and William Matthew Wilson.

    Walker was sentenced for capital murder on June 6, 2003, plus the charge of arson which he committed trying to cover up the homicide. He was sentenced to death in Lee County for the July 17, 2001 slaying of Tupelo personnel director Charles Richardson.

    Wilson was sentenced for capital murder on May 30, 2007, plus the charge of child abuse. He was sentenced to death for the killing of two-year-old Mallory Conlee.

    http://www.leecountycourier.net/arti...a555286361.txt

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