KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Advocates are hopeful the death of a Missouri man will be stopped before his scheduled execution at 6:00PM tomorrow at the state prison in Bonne Terre, MO.
On Monday, Missouri Governor Mike Parson declined to grant clemency to death row inmate Ernest Johnson.
If there is no relief for Ernest Johnson, advocates will hold execution watches in several Missouri locations including outside the Governor’s Office and near 39th and Troost in Kansas City, Mo.
Sixty-one-year-old Johnson was convicted of killing three workers at a Casey’s General Store in Columbia in 1994, including manager Mary Bratcher and employees Mabel Scruggs and Fred Jones.
“This is an incredibly sad case all the way around,” Johnson’s attorney Assistant Federal Public Defender Jeremy Weis said. “I don’t want to forget. Ernest would not want us to forget that he committed a terrible crime which he is incredibly sorry for.”
Weis believes Johnson should spend the rest of his life in prison. He says executing Johnson would violate the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits executing intellectually disabled people.
“Every expert that has testified that has undertaken an intellectual disability examination of him has testified he is intellectually disabled,” Weis said.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson said, “The state is prepared to deliver justice and carry out the lawful sentence Mr. Johnson received in accordance with the Missouri Supreme Court's order.”
The governor’s office issued a statement that said in part, “The evidence showed Mr. Johnson went to great lengths to plan and conceal his crime. Three juries have reviewed Mr. Johnson's case and recommended a sentence of death. Mr. Johnson's claim that he is not competent to be executed has been reviewed and rejected by a jury and the courts six different times, including a unanimous decision by the Missouri Supreme Court.”
“We are deeply saddened and disheartened by his decision today,” State Director of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty Elyse Max said. “In fact, Governor Parson calls the execution of Johnson an act of justice, and we know it is an act of vengeance, and it is not justice.”
In August, the Missouri Supreme Court refused to halt the execution. On Monday, Johnson’s attorneys asked the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of execution.
Advocates say they will hold vigils for Johnson if a stay of execution is not granted.
“Assuming that murder is an appropriate response for murder is just continuing the cycle of violence that we need to be addressing in Missouri,” Max said. “We hope that folks will take a look at what happens to Ernest Johnson as part of a system that is unjust.”
On Tuesday, advocates are expected to gather at 39th and Troost in Kansas City starting at 5:00PM and at noon outside the Governor’s Office.