Georgia death row inmate Joshua Daniel Bishop is scheduled to die by lethal injection Thursday night. The convicted murderer was sentenced to death for the June 1994 fatal beating of another man.
On the night of the murder, Bishop was out drinking and using drugs with two friends, Mark Braxley and Leverett Morrison. After the trio left a local bar, they decided the party wasn't over and went to Braxley's trailer to smoke crack.
Later, after Morrison fell asleep, Braxley wanted to go visit a girlfriend and instructed Bishop to get the car keys from Morrison. While Bishop was digging for the keys in the sleeping man's pocket, Morrison woke up.
Bishop insisted on taking the keys and, using a piece of closet rod, beat Morrison to death. Together, Braxley and Bishop wrapped Morrison's lifeless body in an old sheet and tried to discard it in a dumpster. For some reason, the two were unable to open the waste container, so they left Morrison's corpse on the ground.
The couple also set fire to Morrison's jeep and returned to the trailer to clean up the crime scene.
Morrison's body was discovered the next morning, and authorities quickly determined Bishop and Braxley were involved after interviewing people at the bar. Bishop, who was 18 at the time, admitted to the murder.
During questioning by law enforcement, Bishop also confessed to being partially responsible for the death of Ricky Willis, a different murder that also happened in Braxley's trailer two weeks earlier. Only Braxley was charged and ultimately convicted of the Willis murder.
Bishop was convicted of killing Morrison and sentenced to death in 1996. For his part in the both murders, Braxley was sentenced to life without parole.
On Wednesday, a clemency hearing was scheduled in an attempt to stop the Georgia execution. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles conducted the hearing in Atlanta and heard from attorneys trying to save Bishop's life.
The attorneys argued that Bishop, now 41, should be spared the death sentence because the inmate has shown remorse for the murder as well as becoming religious while in prison. Not only has he become spiritual, Bishop also ministers to other inmates and regularly attends church services.
Lawyers also asked for mercy because Bishop's sentence was much harsher than Braxley's. They argued that Braxley was the instigator in Morrison's murder and Bishop was only acting under his orders.
The Parole Board also read letters from several of Morrison's family members asking that Bishop's sentenced be reduced to life without parole. One of the letters was from Angela Morrison Duduk, a sister of the murdered man.
"It is certainly a hard life in prison, but it is still life. I loved my brother Leverett, but his memory is not honored by killing Josh. I forgive Josh for what he did."
Even a family member of Ricky Willis wrote letters on behalf of Morrison. Willis' half-brother, Ronnie Daniels, wrote asking the Georgia execution be stopped.
"I do not think it is fair that Josh got the death sentence if Mark was just as responsible for the killing. I am not friends with Mark Braxley or Josh Bishop, however, I do not want Josh to die. I think Josh should at least get a life without parole sentence."
In addition to the attorney arguments and the pleas of the family, seven of the 12 jurors who sentenced Bishop to death have changed their mind. They also requested the board commute the death sentence.
Despite these efforts, the five-member Parole Board has yet to make a ruling. At the end of the day yesterday, the board elected to continue their review of the arguments and appeals of the Georgia inmate's advocates. At this point, the board can commute Bishop's sentence, decline the clemency, or authorize a 90-day hold while it considers more arguments.
Last month, the board denied clemency for another death row inmate, Travis Hittson. As reported previously by the Inquisitr, Hittson was put to death for the 1992 murder of Conway Utterbeck, a fellow Navy crewman and friend.
Unless the Parole Board decides to stop the Georgia execution, Joshua Daniel Bishop will die at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.
[Photo by Georgia Department of Corrections/Getty Images]