Georgia has scheduled its third lethal injection this year; Joshua Daniel Bishop is to be put to death on March 31 for a 1994 murder that came after a dispute over the keys to a Jeep.
Bishop’s execution was scheduled on Friday, little more than three weeks after Travis Hittson was put to death on Feb. 17 and almost 5 1/2 weeks after 72-year-old Brandon Astor Jones died by lethal injection on Feb. 3 for a 1997 murder of a Cobb County convenience store manager.
There are at least two more men who could have their execution dates set over the next few weeks.
At first Bishop and his co-defendant Mark Braxley denied they killed Leverett Morrison. But Bishop eventually gave police a detailed account of Morrison’s beating death, and he also admitted he participated in the murder of a second man two weeks before Morrison was killed.
His confession was video tapped.
And that recording was played for the jury even though his lawyers fought to get it excluded on the basis that Bishop was drunk and high after smoking crack cocaine and was not competent to understand the ramifications of telling police what had happened.
According to Bishop, he, Braxley and Morrison had spent the afternoon drinking and smoking crack and then the evening of June 24, 1994, drinking at a Milledgeville bar. They decided around 11 p.m. to move the party to Braxley’s trailer, where Bishop and Braxley planned to take Morrison’s car.
Morrison fell asleep but woke as Bishop was trying to fetch the car keys out of his pocket.
Bishop said on the recording Morrison “popped [him] and asked [him] what [he] was doing,” and that is when he started hitting Morrison with a wooden stick that “was like a closet rod.
“I hit him too hard, I reckon, and he didn’t say anything. He just wouldn’t breathe,” Bishop told detectives in the recorded statement.
Bishop said Braxley hit Morrison three times and he also hit him “like three times in the head with that stick, just to see the first time if I could knock him out where I could get his keys. But he wouldn’t knock out. I hit him one more time and finally, he looked like he was knocked out,” Braxley said on the videotaped confession.
Then he took the keys.
The two realized Morrison was dead.
“I saw we were messing up pretty bad. He wasn’t breathing. I checked him out and he wasn’t breathing. He was dead,” Bishop said.
He and Braxley wrapped Morrison’s body in a comforter, put it in the backseat of Morrison’s Jeep and drove to a nearby dumpster, planning to leave body inside.
After several unsuccessful attempts to hoist Morrison’s body into the container, they gave up and left it between two dumpsters, where it was found a short time later.
Bishop and Braxley set the Jeep on fire at a nearby pond and then walked back to Braxley’s trailer to clean up the murder scene.
Bishop and Braxley eventually told detectives they also killed Ricky Lee Wills two weeks earlier and buried his body near Braxley’s trailer.
Braxley plead guilty to Morrison’s murder and was sentenced to life in prison.