The execution of a Missouri prisoner who was found guilty of ambushing and killing a police officer in the St. Louis region whom he accused of being responsible for the death of his younger brother was planned for Tuesday, but his attorneys are attempting to stop the lethal injection.
The defense team for Kevin Johnson does not contest that he killed Police Officer William McEntee in 2005, but they argue in a petition to the Missouri Supreme Court that his conviction for capital punishment was influenced in part by the fact that he is Black.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request for a stay, and on Monday, Governor Mike Parson declared he would not grant clemency.
Republican and former county sheriff Parson said in a statement that “the violent murder of any person, let alone a Missouri law enforcement officer, should be dealt only with the greatest punishment state law provides.” “Mr. Johnson snatched Sergeant McEntee’s life via his own vile deeds, leaving behind a bereaved family, a widowed wife, and fatherless children. There will be no clemency.
When he was 19 years old, Kevin Johnson killed a police officer, William McEntee, and was sentenced to death. His execution is scheduled for November 29th. Missouri is now fighting to prevent Kevin’s 19-year-old daughter from witnessing the execution of her father.
— Sister Helen Prejean (@helenprejean) November 26, 2022
Tuesday at 6 o’clock, Johnson, 37, will be put to death at the state penitentiary in Bonne Terre. He would be the 17th person executed nationwide and the second man executed in Missouri in 2022.
The Kirkwood, a suburb of St. Louis, police department has employed McEntee, 43, for 20 years. On July 5, 2005, the father of three was one of the officers dispatched to Johnson’s residence to execute an arrest warrant. Police thought Johnson had broken the terms of his probation after hitting his girlfriend while under it.
Joseph “Bam Bam” Long, Johnson’s 12-year-old brother, was awakened when he saw the officers come and raced to the house next door. The youngster, who had a congenital heart problem, collapsed and was having a seizure when he arrived.
Johnson testified in court that McEntee prevented his mother from helping Johnson’s brother, who later passed away in a hospital, by preventing her from entering the home.
McEntee went back to the area that evening to investigate unrelated complaints of fireworks being set off.
According to a court document from the Missouri attorney general’s office, McEntee was questioning three youngsters while in his automobile when Johnson opened fire, striking the officer’s head, chest, and leg. Johnson then entered the vehicle and removed McEntee’s firearm.
According to a court document, Johnson allegedly told his mother as he was walking down the street that McEntee “let my brother die” and “needs to see what it feels like to die.”
Johnson went back to the gunshot scene and saw McEntee alive, on his knees close to the patrol car, despite her telling him, “That’s not true.” McEntee was fatally wounded by Johnson’s gunshots to his head and back.
— Sarah Unsicker (@SarahUnsicker) November 28, 2022
In the past, Johnson’s attorneys have requested the courts to get involved for additional reasons, such as his history of mental illness and his age (19) at the time of the murder.
Since the Supreme Court abolished the execution of offenders who were under the age of 18 at the time of their crime in 2005, courts have become less likely to sentence juvenile offenders to death.
However, allegations of racial bias have received more attention in appeals. Judge Mary Elizabeth Ott of the St. Louis Circuit Court ordered a special prosecutor to examine the matter in October.
E.E. Keenan, the special prosecutor, submitted a motion earlier this month to overturn the death penalty, claiming that race was a “decisive factor” in the decision.
Ott opted against abolishing the death penalty. To discuss the motion, the Missouri Supreme Court held an urgent hearing on Monday.
During his 28 years in office, former St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch’s office handled five cases involving the murders of police officers, Keenan said to the state Supreme Court. The dossier stated that McCulloch sought the death penalty in the four instances involving Black defendants but did not do so in the one case involving a White defendant.
Andrew Crane, an assistant attorney general, retorted, “A fair jury found he merited the death penalty.”
McCulloch could not be reached for comment because he did not have a listed phone number.
Khorry Ramey, Johnson’s 19-year-old daughter, had wanted to see the execution, but state law forbids anybody under 21 from doing so. Ramey’s case has received no intervention from the courts.
In 1999, there were 98 executions in the US, however, this number has drastically decreased in recent years. Two are already set for early 2023 in Missouri. Scott McLaughlin, a convicted killer, is scheduled to die on January 3 and Leonard Taylor, a convicted killer, is due to die on February 7.