After a circuit judge denied Kevin Johnson’s daughter the ability to witness his execution, he was dealt another blow by the Missouri Supreme Court who declined to halt his execution, per NBC News. Johnson’s attorneys had filed an emergency clemency motion, arguing Johnson’s case was tainted by racism. Johnson is scheduled for execution Tuesday evening.
Special prosecutor Edward Keenan argued that Johnson’s case had been in the hands of a prosecutor with a history of discriminatory practices, the report says. Keenan accused Robert McCulloch’s office of pursuing the death penalty in police officer killings involving Black defendants but not white defendants. He also accused them of eliminating Black jurors from Johnson’s trial.
“The prosecutor is asking to stop the execution. I’ve been doing this work a long long time and I never had a case where the prosecutor asked to stop the execution,” said Johnson’s attorney Shawn Nolan via KSDK.
Monday, the Court majority released a decision calling Keenan’s claims “repacked versions of claims Johnson has brought and seen rejected many times before.” Republican Gov. Mike Parson added fuel to the fire, releasing a statement ahead of the Court’s decision saying he’d refuse Johnson clemency for his “horrendous and callous crime.”
Johnson has never denied his wrongdoing nor the seriousness of his actions. While on death row, he’s sought redemption on his own. On Nov. 8, he was baptized and has several religious leaders praying for him, per KSDK.
More from the Kansas City Star:
In an email received by The Star on Nov. 28 and time-stamped 3:20 a.m., Johnson reflected on what may be his last days.
Things began to change for him once November hit. “I’ve become so emotional. I was raised not to show weakness and now with all of the tears coming I feel so pathetic. I had to tell my friends that, dying is easy,” he wrote. “What I am so afraid of is leaving people behind. I don’t think my daughter, already living without her mother, is in a positive position to live without either of her birth parents. Now I have a grandson who’s growing up in the same neighborhood I grew up in and I’m sure he could benefit so much from me being alive to advise and structure him.”
US Reps Emanuel Cleaver and Cori Bush openly opposed the execution, noting research has shown adults under 22 years of age lack emotional maturity and impulse control, per Kansas City Star.
“Mr. Johnson’s cruel execution will not solve any of the systemic problems facing Missourians and people all across America, including the scourge of gun violence,” they wrote in a letter.
They’re correct. In what ways has the death penalty addressed the systemic issue of why young men are at risk? There still won’t be an answer by the time Missouri executes Johnson tonight. There won’t be an answer for as long as the criminal “justice” system abuses its power.