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Judge Responds to Woman's Request to Watch Her Father's Execution [Update]

Despite not seeing him for 17 years, the woman wants to be by her father's side as he takes his last breath.

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Image for article titled Judge Responds to Woman's Request to Watch Her Father's Execution [Update]
Screenshot: ACLU via NBC News (Fair Use)

Updated as of 11/28/2022 at 9:30 a.m. ET

Nineteen-year-old Khorry Ramey requested to witness her father’s execution scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 29. A judge ruled that Ramey being barred from viewing the execution was constitutional because she does not meet Missouri’s age requirement of 21 years old to do so, per NBC News.

Ramey hasn’t seen her father since she was two years old. The ACLU filed a suit on her behalf asking the federal court to allow her to attend his execution despite her being too young.

“It’s ironic that Kevin was 19 years old when he committed this crime and they still want to move forward with this execution, but they won’t allow his daughter who’s 19 at this time in because she’s too young,” said Johnson’s lawyer, Shawn Nolan, via NBC.

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The ACLU argued Ramey’s constitutional rights were violated by isolating individuals under 21 years of age “without any rational relationship to a legitimate governmental or penological interest.” However, U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes said Ramey failed to prove how her constitutional rights were violated. Though her desire to be there was significant for her grieving process, she said.

“If my father were dying in the hospital, I would sit by his bed holding his hand and praying for him until his death, both as a source of support for him, and as a support for me as a necessary part of my grieving process and for my peace of mind,” Ramey said via AP News.

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Deputy director of the ACLU National Prison Project, Corene Kendrick, said the judge’s ruling was disappointing and serves to “punish Ms. Ramey.”

“Compounding her pain and grief by barring her from being with her father will do nothing to provide closure or healing to anyone else. The State of Missouri can still do right by Ms. Ramey if the Governor grants her father clemency,” Kendrick said in a statement.

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Kevin Johnson, 37, was convicted for the murder of a police officer in 2005, per AP News. He was 19 when he was served an arrest warrant for violating probation. He sent his younger brother next door to alert his family but the boy collapsed from a seizure. Johnson claimed Officer William McEntee prevented his mother from providing aid and his brother died shortly after. The report says when Johnson saw McEntee again that evening, he shot him dead.

Johnson’s attorneys have fought to spare his life arguing he had a history of mental illness. Appeals to halt the execution are currently pending.

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Read more about the filing from AP News:

On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed an emergency motion with a federal court in Kansas City. The ACLU’s court filing said the law barring under 21s serves no safety purpose and violates Ramey’s Constitutional rights.

ACLU attorney Anthony Rothert said if Ramey can’t attend the execution it will cause her “irreparable harm.”

Meanwhile, Johnson’s lawyers have filed appeals seeking to halt the execution. They don’t challenge his guilt but claim racism played a role in the decision to seek the death penalty, and in the jury’s decision to sentence him to die. Johnson is Black and McEntee was white.

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What else can be more convincing to abolish the death penalty?

Consider how Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey put a pause on Kenneth Eugene’s execution because they failed for a third time to inject him with the lethal cocktail. Imagine anticipating the government ordered murder of your loved one not once, but three times. According to AP, 16 people have been executed this year. Some still maintained their innocence due to conflicting evidence in their cases.

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The Eighth Amendment offers almost no protection at all when some states have normalized the death penalty as something other than cruel and unusual.