A 19-year-old woman is asking a federal court to allow her to watch her father’s death by injection, despite a Missouri law that prohibits anyone under 21 from witnessing an execution.
Kevin Johnson faces execution on November 29 for the 2005 killing of Kirkwood, Missouri police officer William McEntee. Johnson’s lawyers have pending appeals trying to spare his life.
Meanwhile, Johnson has asked his daughter, Khorry Ramey, to attend the execution, and she wants to be there. 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 anyone under 21 from witnessing an execution serves no safety purpose and violates Ramey’s Constitutional rights.
Ramey, in a court statement, called Johnson “the most important person in my life.”
“If my father died in hospital, I would sit by his bed holding his hand and pray for him until his death, as a source of support for him, and as support for me as a necessary part of my grieving process. and for my peace of mind,” said Ramey.
Johnson, now 37, has been incarcerated since Ramey was 2 years old. The ACLU said the two were able to bond through visits, phone calls, emails and letters. Last month, she brought her newborn son to prison to meet his grandfather.
“I have a son who needs his father and I’m a daughter who needs her father,” Ramey said, according to CBS affiliate KMOV.
ACLU attorney Anthony Rothert said if Ramey is unable to attend the execution it would cause her “irreparable harm.”
Michelle Smith, spokeswoman for Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, told KMOV that if a person can be sentenced to death at age 19, a family member has the right to be a witness when the state execute her father.
Meanwhile, Johnson’s lawyers have filed appeals seeking to stay the execution. They do not challenge his guilt but they claim that 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 is White.
Johnson’s lawyers have also asked the courts to intervene for other reasons, including a history of mental illness and his age – he was 19 at the time of the crime. Courts have increasingly moved away from sentencing teenage criminals to death since the Supreme Court in 2005 banned the execution of criminals who were younger than 18 at the time of their crime.
In a court case last week before the United States Supreme Court, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office said there was no basis for court intervention.
“The surviving victims of Johnson’s crimes have waited long enough for justice, and every day longer they have to wait is a day they are denied a chance to finally make peace with their loss,” the petition said. state.
McEntee, a husband and father of three, was among the police officers sent to Johnson’s home on July 5, 2005, to serve a warrant for his arrest. Johnson was on probation for assaulting his girlfriend, and police believed he had violated his probation.
Johnson saw officers arrive and woke up his 12-year-old brother, Joseph “Bam Bam” Long, who ran next door to their grandmother’s house. Once there, the boy, who was suffering from a heart defect, collapsed and began to have a seizure.
Johnson testified at trial that McEntee kept his mother from entering the house to help his brother, who died a short time later in hospital.
Later that night, McEntee returned to the neighborhood to check on unrelated reports of fireworks being shot off. That’s when he came across Johnson.
Johnson pulled out a gun and shot the officer. He then approached the wounded officer, knelt down and shot him again, killing him.
The execution would be the first of three in the coming months in Missouri. The state plans to execute convicted killers Scott McLaughlin on January 3 and Leonard Taylor on February 7.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Missouri has 20 inmates on death row.
Sixteen men have been executed in the United States this year. Alabama inmate Kenneth Eugene Smith was scheduled to die Thursday for killing a preacher’s wife in a murder-for-hire plot, butbecause state officials could not find a suitable vein to inject the deadly drugs.