Burns' Execution ‘Very Likely' | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Burns' Execution ‘Very Likely'


Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps announced a new non-segregation policy for male HIV-positive prisoners yesterday.

Updated at 5:45 p.m.

Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps briefly spoke with reporters at Parchman Penitentiary at 2 p.m. today.

Mostly reading from the release provided to the small group of reporters, Epps recounted the food condemned man Joseph D. Burns ate today. He declined a 5:27 a.m. breakfast; however, he ate lunch: bread, two slices each of salami and cheese, pickles, lettuce and juice.

Epps said Burns did not request a special last meal, something Epps had not seen in the 14 executions he has witnessed in Mississippi. Burns' final meal will consist of the same food as the rest of the prisoners: red beans and rice, corn, greens, cornbread, cake, tea and a cup of ice.

"He didn't see it as a big deal," Epps said.

The commissioner indicated Burns was "eating, talking and cooperative." He has forgiven his partner in crime, Phillip Hale, who received a life sentence for the murder and robbery the pair committed Nov. 9, 1994. Mississippi released Hale on parole Dec. 1, 2008.

"He has accepted God," Epps said, and Burns will apologize to the victims' family in his statement prior to his execution.

"I feel like, based on (our) conversation, that he's ready to go," Epps said. "... He's rehearsing his last statement."

Burns and Hale robbed Mike McBride, manager of the Town House Motel on Gloster Street in Tupelo of $3,000, Nov. 9, 1994. Hale knocked McBride out; however Burns stabbed him to death "in the back of the neck with a knife, a fork and a phillip's head screwdriver," according to an MDOC release.

"Very likely, we'll have an execution today," Epps said.

Update: At 5:28 p.m., MDOC sent a press release stating that the U.S. Supreme Court has requested the MDOC postpone Burns' execution for approximately one to two hours in order to review a motion filed by his attorneys today.

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