Missouri executes Ernest Johnson despite urgent appeals

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Ernest Johnson, 61, was executed in Missouri on October 5, despite intervention from members of Congress and Pope Francis, and a last-minute appeal to the US Supreme Court.

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A public defender of Mr Johnson, convicted in the murders of three people nearly three decades ago, argued that the killing of a man with an intellectual disability is unconstitutional in the state.

Republican Governor Mike Parson – who championed Missouri as “the most pro-life state” as he advanced anti-abortion legislation – denied Mr Johnson’s clemency.


Governor Parson declared, “The state stands ready to deliver justice and to punish Mr. Johnson legally as ordered by the Missouri Supreme Court.”

On Tuesday, the country’s High Court rejected Mr Johnson’s appeal.

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Mr Johnson’s legal team argued in the Supreme Court that “no tangible damages” existed for delaying his execution, while courts held his disability “constitutionally”, turning to a significant 2002 Supreme Court decision. Pointing out that the government cannot execute people with intellectual disabilities. , in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Attorney Jeremy Weiss argued that multiple examinations proved Mr Johnson’s diagnosis of intellectual disability and fetal alcohol syndrome. In 2008, according to Mr. Weiss, Mr. Johnson had lost 20 percent of his brain tissue due to the removal of a benign tumor.

Mr Johnson was killed by lethal injection at a state prison in Bonne Terre on 5 October. He passed away at 6:11 pm.

He was the first person to be hanged in the state since May 2020, and he is the seventh person to be hanged in the US in 2021.

Mr Johnson was sentenced to death in 1999 after killing three people during a robbery at Casey’s General Store in Colombia.

Following his execution, Missouri faith leaders, elected officials and advocates, as well as US Representatives Emanuel Cleaver and Corey Bush, urged the governor to halt the execution, which lawmakers called “a serious act of injustice.”

“The fact of the matter is that the death penalty is not about justice,” he said in a letter to the governor. “They’re about who has institutional power and who doesn’t.”

Ms Bush also pointed to racial disparities among death row prisoners and a criminal justice system finding that killers of white victims “are seven times more likely to receive the death penalty than murderers of black victims”. “

“The death penalty is a tool that perpetuates racial violence,” He said. “This needs to end. Ernest Johnson should not be hanged.”

In a letter to the governor of the Vatican’s ambassador to the US, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Pope Francis urged him to grant Mr Johnson “some appropriate clemency”.

Archbishop Pierre wrote, “His Holiness would like to present to you the simple fact of Mr. Johnson’s humanity and the sanctity of all human life.”

Responding to a stay on Mr Johnson’s execution request, Republican Attorney General Eric Schmidt of Missouri said on Monday that the murders for which Mr Johnson was indicted “clearly plan, strategize, calculate and act effectively”. reflect the criminal’s ability to plan.”

write in Kansas City StarFormer Governor Bob Holden, whose office saw the executions of 20 people sentenced to death, said that “if our state is to be guided by the rule of law, we must channel our understandable anger with reason and compassion to the most among ourselves.” There should be pacification for the weak. Including Ernest Johnson.”

Anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prezien said Mr Johnson’s execution was “unconstitutional under all existing legal precedents.”

“He has the psychic ability of a 9-year-old and is missing” [20 per cent] of his brain mass,” He said. “The failure of the Supreme Court to do anything to stop it is a moral failure of the Supreme Order.”

Credit: www.independent.co.uk / Missouri

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