The execution of a Black demise row inmate can proceed Tuesday night after Missouri’s highest court docket rejected a declare that the case was tainted by racial bias and decided it might most certainly not achieve success in authorized challenges.
Particular prosecutor Edward Keenan had argued that the state’s preliminary dealing with of Kevin Johnson’s case was rife with “racist prosecution strategies” that performed into his conviction and demise sentence within the 2005 killing of a Missouri police officer. Johnson was 19 on the time of the arrest.
The Missouri Supreme Court docket’s resolution launched late Monday permits the state to proceed its deliberate execution of Johnson, 37, by deadly injection and got here after Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, stated in an announcement he wouldn’t grant him clemency “for his horrendous and callous crime.”
The choice was a 5-2 vote, with the bulk writing that Keenan’s claims “are largely simply re-packaged variations of claims Johnson has introduced (and seen rejected) many instances earlier than. Nothing within the Particular Prosecutor’s movement materially adjustments these claims or affords any better probability of success than these claims have had previously.”
The court docket’s ruling is an extra blow in Johnson’s case after a federal choose on Friday denied his 19-year-old daughter the suitable to attend his execution primarily based on Missouri legislation that requires a witness to be not less than 21.
Keenan was appointed as a particular prosecutor by the St. Louis County Circuit Court docket in October and stated in a court docket submitting that he discovered that the workplace of longtime county prosecutor Robert McCulloch, who misplaced his re-election in 2018, had engaged in discriminatory practices.
These embody how McCulloch’s workplace had prosecuted 5 instances of police officer killings and pursued the demise penalty in 4 instances of Black defendants however not within the case involving a white defendant whose “conduct was extra aggravated,” in accordance with Keenan.
As well as, Keenan stated that McCulloch “largely reserved the demise penalty” for defendants whose victims have been white and that statements he made to different prosecutors “present a specific animosity in the direction of younger Black males like Mr. Johnson, viewing them as a inhabitants that ‘we needed to cope with,’ and portraying them as stereotypical criminals.”
McCulloch couldn’t instantly be reached for remark Monday.
Keenan stated in a court docket submitting that he additionally sought a keep to Johnson’s execution as a result of the crew of prosecutors throughout his trial have declined to cooperate along with his investigation.
“Mr. McCulloch has refused to even acknowledge correspondence from the Particular Prosecutor asking him in regards to the case, regardless of his intensive statements to the information media about this and different instances,” Keenan stated.
Upon Johnson’s execution date being set, McCulloch instructed the St. Louis Publish-Dispatch in August that he was sentenced to demise particularly due to a “brutal, vicious, unprovoked assassination of a police officer.”
“Nothing to do along with his race, my race, anyone’s race,” McCulloch stated.
Missouri Assistant Lawyer Basic Andrew Crane reiterated throughout arguments earlier than the state Supreme Court docket that Johnson was given the demise penalty as a result of he killed a police officer, and every other circumstances surrounding the case in opposition to him finally did not matter.
Johnson was arrested in July 2005 for the deadly capturing of Kirkwood Police Officer William McEntee in suburban St. Louis.
McEntee and different officers have been serving an arrest warrant for Johnson, who had been on probation for assaulting his girlfriend and was believed to have been in violation.
On the time, his 12-year-old brother, who had a congenital coronary heart defect, suffered a seizure after working subsequent door to his grandmother’s home. He later died on the hospital. Johnson testified at his trial that McEntee pushed his mom when she arrived on the scene, and the officer’s actions angered him as he frightened about his brother’s well being.
When McEntee returned to his neighborhood that night for an unrelated name a few fireworks disturbance, Johnson stated, he encountered the officer. In line with prosecutors, he shot McEntee a number of instances earlier than fleeing. He turned himself in three days later.
Throughout his incarceration, Johnson’s supporters say he has turned his life round and has been a supportive father to his daughter, Khorry Ramey, who was 2 when Johnson was arrested. She stated he has been the one guardian she has identified after her mom was killed by an ex-boyfriend when she was 4.
“My dad is crucial individual in my life. He has been there for me my complete life, regardless that he’s been incarcerated,” Ramey stated in an announcement Friday after dropping her lawsuit to be a witness to his execution. “He is an effective father, the one guardian I’ve left.”
Johnson has exhausted all of his authorized treatments. Barring any unexpected delay, if he’s put to demise Tuesday, it might be the fifth execution by a state this month, which has been the busiest month to this point for capital punishment in america in 2022.