Wednesday, October 27, 2021

After Years of Delay, Mental Questions, Missouri to Execute Assassin Ernest Lee Johnson

October 5 (WNN) — The state of Missouri is set to hang a man convicted of killing three people while robbing a convenience store in 1994 on Tuesday, despite several high-profile calls for clemency.

Ernest Lee Johnson, 61, is set to die of lethal injection after his conviction of using a hammer to kill three convenience store workers in 2005—Mary Bratcher, 46; Fred Jones, 58; and Mabel Scruggs, 57 — in Columbia, Mo.

The US Supreme Court granted Johnson a final stay of execution in 2015, when his lawyers argued that a tumor in his brain would make lethal injections exceedingly painful.

Court filings at the time indicated that 20% of Johnson’s brain was missing due to surgery to remove the tumor. However, his lawyers say that some part of the tumor remains.

Johnson also suffered brain damage as a result of surgery, and in 2002 a Supreme Court decision held that executing people with intellectual disabilities violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

However, Missouri’s Supreme Court ruled in August that Johnson’s recollections and description of the crime showed he was “capable of planning, strategizing, and problem-solving—as opposed to the search for substantial subsea intelligence.”

In a statement Monday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said the state is “ready to deliver justice and serve a lawful sentence.”

Parson’s office said, “Mr. Johnson was tried and convicted for the brutal murder of three innocent victims during a robbery in 1994. Evidence suggests that Mr. Johnson planned and concealed his crime.” Took a lot of effort.”

“Three juries have reviewed Mr. Johnson’s case and recommended the death penalty. Mr. Johnson’s claim that he is not competent to execute has been reviewed and dismissed six separate times by a jury and the courts. including a unanimous decision by the Missouri Supreme Court.”

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Many advocates are demanding clemency amid the state’s plans to pursue the hanging.

Last week, Pope Francis appealed to the governor of Missouri in a letter to the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, saying that the pope’s appeal was “not based solely on Mr. Johnson’s questionable intellectual ability.”

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

Democratic Missouri Reps. Corey Bush and Emmanuel Cleaver II also called on Parson to release Johnson last week, saying his execution would be unconstitutional and a “grave act of injustice.”

supporters gathered Outside of the Boone County Courthouse last week to hear speeches and evidence in support of the clemency.

According to Columbia Missourian, Princess Braggs said, “At least, Gov. Parsons can conduct a board of inquiry that would allow a group of neutral mental health experts to weigh in on the issue of Ernest Johnson’s competence.” “They have the power to stop this unconstitutional execution.”

Activist Jeff Stack said, “We want to reinforce that we are not urging Gov. Parson to release Ernest Johnson. All we are saying is that we will sentence him to life.”

Without interference, Johnson is to be executed Tuesday at 6 p.m. CDT in Bonne Terre’s state prison.

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