Missouri judge bars Kevin Johnson’s daughter from witnessing lethal injection

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A 19-year-old woman’s request to witness the impending execution of her father in Missouri has been denied by a federal judge because she is under 21 years old, the legal minimum age to witness an execution in the state.

Corionsa “Khorry” Ramey, whose father, Kevin Johnson, 37, is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection on Nov. 29, filed an emergency challenge to the Missouri law that prevented her from witnessing his execution, arguing that the age limit was arbitrary and violated her rights under the US Constitution. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit on Ramey’s behalf.

“It is excruciating to know that I am about to lose my father again when the state kills him, yet I cannot be present at his death simply because of my age,” Ramey said in a lawsuit shared by ACLU.

In a ruling denying the motion, also shared by the ACLU, U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes acknowledged the age limit could cause Ramey emotional harm, but did not find it violated her First and 14th Amendment rights, as her lawyers argued.

Johnson was convicted of first-degree murder after being found guilty of killing Kirkwood, Mo., police officer William McEntee in 2005. He is scheduled to be executed at a state prison in Bonne Terre at 6 p.m. 18:00 local time on November 29. lawyers have several pending legal appeals seeking to halt his execution, according to the ACLU.

In her request to attend her father’s execution, Ramey said Johnson has been her only living parent since the death of her mother, whose killing she said she witnessed when she was 4. Despite his imprisonment for the past 17 years , Ramey said she has a close relationship with her father, who she talks to weekly and was able to introduce to her newborn son last month, she said. Johnson had also requested that his daughter be one of five people permitted to witness his execution, according to the complaint.

“I am devastated that I will not be able to be with my father in his final moments,” Ramey said in a statement shared by the ACLU after her motion was denied. “My father is the most important person in my life. He has been there for me all my life even though he has been in prison. He is a good father, the only parent I have left. He has worked very hard to rehabilitate himself even in prison.” She added, “I pray that Governor Parson will grant my father clemency,” referring to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R).

In separate cases, Johnson’s legal team and a special prosecutor requested that judges intervene to halt the execution for a number of reasons, including Johnson’s history of mental illness, his age — he was 19 when the crime took place — and evidence of racial bias in both conviction and sentencing.

According to the Missouri Supreme Court, on July 5, 2005, Kirkwood police officers were investigating a vehicle believed to belong to Johnson — who had an outstanding warrant for a probation violation from a previous offense — at his home when his younger brother had a seizure. in the house next door. The brother, Joseph “Bam Bam” Long, was 12, the Associated Press reported.

Several police officers, including McEntee, responded to the medical emergency, but Long died a short time later at the hospital from a pre-existing heart condition, the court said. Johnson accused McEntee of not doing enough to save his brother and fatally shot him after meeting him later that evening, the court said in its 2009 ruling.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit organization that reports on death penalty issues, Johnson’s planned execution — if it goes ahead — would be the 17th execution carried out in the United States this year. Missouri has executed 92 prisoners since 1976, the center reported, the fifth most of any state.

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