Clemency denied for convicted Baldwin County murderer

ATLANTA, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The state Pardons and Parole Board denied Joshua Daniel Bishop clemency Thursday morning.

Bishop is scheduled to die by lethal injection tonight, March 31, 2016, at 7 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson for the 1994 murder of Leverett Morrison in Baldwin County, according to a news release. A jury convicted him of malice murder and armed robbery in February 1996.

The board met with Bishop’s representatives Wednesday to consider a request for clemency. In Bishop’s clemency application, his counsel argued Bishop’s life was one of “deprivation, abuse, hopelessness,” but also one of “faith, contrition” and redemption. The following quote is an excerpt from Bishop’s clemency application:

“His is a life that should be saved rather than taken prematurely, and is a life that can be held up to others as a living extent to which lives in a state of loss and addiction can be transformed into ones of meaning, purpose, and hope.”

The parole board reviewed all case materials from the comprehensive parole file of Bishop in making its decision to deny clemency, according to the state Board of Pardons and Paroles. To review Bishop’s clemency application click here.

Court records say Morrison drove Bishop and another man, Mark Braxley, to a bar. The three left the bar around 11 p.m. and drove to Braxley’s trailer. Bishop tried to steal Morrison’s car keys from Morrison’s pocket, but Morrison woke up. Bishop beat Morrison on his head and face with what was later found to be a wooden rod, according to a case summary from the Georgia Attorney General’s Office. Bishop and Braxley tried to dispose of Morrison’s body in a nearby dumpster, but weren’t able to so they left it on the ground. They drove Morrison’s car to the woods, set it on fire and walked back to Braxley’s trailer.

The case summary says Bishop admitted to killing Morrison and another man two weeks earlier. Bishop said he buried Ricky Wills’ body in the woods near Braxley’s trailer. After investigators found Wills’ body, a grand jury indicted Bishop and Braxley for that murder as well. The trial court allowed evidence of Bishop’s participation in Wills’ murder in aggravation of punishment during the penalty phase of his trial for Morrison’s murder, according to the case summary. To review the case summary click here.

The jury’s recommendation of a death sentence was returned on February 12, 1996. Bishop’s direct appeal proceedings and his state and federal habeas corpus proceedings have been concluded. The United States Supreme Court denied Bishop’s request to appeal on October 6, 2014. The Superior Court of Baldwin County issued the execution order.

Categories: Baldwin County, Local News