Bellingham Herald

Requiem for a killer on death row: Macon, Ga., newspaper gets the job done right

Requiem for a killer on death row: Macon, Ga., newspaper gets the job done right

Every so often, there is an article of such beauty that one has to draw attention to it. Here we have a long-time resident of Georgia’s Death Row whose obituary ended up being sent around the country. (I first spotted it in the Bellingham, Wash. Herald). I am guessing that a reporter was reading ordinary obits in the Macon Telegraph (the printed version of macon.com) when he saw a heart-rending eight paragraphs written by the condemned man’s lawyer.

And so he wrote a story. Usually people don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for those on Death Row, but this story injected some humanity a 41-year-old man who was executed this past March 31. It didn’t excuse the murder he had committed at age 19, but it explained how someone who was treated like an animal since birth might have acted like one at one point, then spent the next 20 years seeking redemption.

The man is dead now, but he looks like a boy in the prison photograph. He has on inmate garb -- a short-sleeved white shirt with a stark navy collar -- the uniform of death row.
The picture is from about 1999. Joshua Daniel Bishop was a young man back then – 24 or so – with cropped, brownish hair and a round face. A hint of a closed-mouth smile makes him look younger. He’d already been on Georgia’s death row since February 1996, the month after he turned 21.
Bishop was there because in June 1994, after a night of drinking at the Hill Top Grill in Baldwin County, Ga., he and another man used a wooden closet rod to beat to death a 43-year-old carpenter named Leverette Morrison.

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