Kevin Johnson execution: 19-year-old daughter asks court to let her watch father’s death by injection in Missouri
A federal court has granted permission to a 19-year old woman to witness her father’s execution by injection. This is despite the fact that a Missouri law prohibits anyone under 21 from seeing an execution.
Kevin Johnson will be executed on Nov. 29 for his 2005 murder of William McEntee (a Kirkwood, Missouri police officer). Johnson’s lawyers are awaiting appeals to save his life.
Johnson, his daughter Khorry Ramey has asked to attend the execution. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion of emergency with a Kansas City federal court on Monday. According to the ACLU, the law that bars anyone younger than 21 from witnessing executions violates Ramey’s Constitutional rights and serves no safety purpose.
In a court declaration Ramey called Johnson “the most significant person in my life”
Ramey stated, “If my dad were to die in the hospital, I would stand by his bed and hold his hand, praying for him until his passing, both as a source for support for him and as a support system for me as a necessary component of my grieving process, and for my peace and mind.”
Johnson, now 37 years old, was incarcerated when Ramey was 2. According to the ACLU, they have been able build a bond over visits, phone calls, and emails. She brought her son, who was just one month old, to the prison to see his grandfather.
According to CBS affiliate, KMOV Ramey stated that he has a son who needs his papa and that he is a daughter who needs her father.
Anthony Rothert, ACLU attorney, stated that Ramey’s inability to attend the execution will cause her “irreparable damage.”
Michelle Smith, spokesperson of Missourians for Alternatives To the Death Penalty, stated to KMOV that if a person is sentenced to death at 19, then his family members have the right to witness the execution of her father.
Johnson’s lawyers filed appeals to stop the execution. Although they don’t contest his guilt, they claim that racism played a part in Johnson’s decision to seek death penalty and the jury’s decision not to sentence him to death. McEntee is White and Johnson was Black.
Johnson’s lawyers have also asked courts to intervene because Johnson had a history with mental illness and was only 19 when he committed the crime. Since 2005, when the Supreme Court banned executions of juvenile offenders younger than 18, courts have been increasingly reluctant to sentence teen offenders death row.
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office said in a court filing that it was not possible to intervene in court.
The state petition stated that Johnson’s victims have waited long enough to get justice. Every day they wait, they are denied the chance of making peace with their loss.
McEntee was a father of three and a husband. He was one of the officers who were sent to Johnson’s house on July 5, 2005 to serve a warrant. Johnson was currently on probation for assaulting his girlfriend and police believe he has violated probation.
Johnson was awakened by officers and his brother Joseph “Bam Bam”, aged 12, ran next to their grandmother’s house. The boy, who had a congenital heart defect and was prone to seizures, began to have seizures once he got there.
Johnson testified that McEntee prevented his mother from entering his house in order to help his brother who later died at a hospital.
McEntee went back to the area later that evening to verify unrelated reports about fireworks being set off. Johnson was there when McEntee met him.
Johnson pulled out a gun to shoot the officer. Johnson then approached the officer, kneeling down, and fired again, killing him.
This execution would be the first in a series of three planned executions in Missouri in the next few months. Scott McLaughlin and Leonard Taylor, both convicted murderers, will be executed by the state on January 3rd and February 7.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center Missouri has 20 death row inmates
This year, sixteen men were executed in the U.S. Alabama inmate Kenneth Eugene Smith was scheduled to be executed Thursday for murdering a preacher’s wife in a plot to murder-for-hire. However execution was stopped by state officials who couldn’t locate a vein that would allow the injection of the lethal drugs.