Kevin Johnson: Missouri kills man who killed police officer

Kevin Johnson: Missouri kills man who killed police officer


[Breaking news update, published at 9:25 p.m. ET]

Kevin Johnson, who killed a Kirkwood, Missouri police officer in 2005 but was racially biased in his prosecution, was executed by lethal injection Tuesday night. Johnson, 37, was pronounced dead at 7:40 p.m. CT. Karen Poiman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections, said she did not have a final statement.

[Previous story, published at 6:49 a.m. ET]

The Missouri Supreme Court has denied a death row inmate’s request to stay the execution after hearing arguments that racial discrimination played a role in his prosecution for killing a police officer.

Kevin Johnson, who will be sentenced to death on Tuesday, will appeal to the United States Supreme Court, his attorneys said late Monday.

Johnson had a 19-year-old daughter in a separate lawsuit failed this month filing a federal lawsuit to prevent the state from imposing the death penalty unless Johnson is allowed to testify; Missouri law prohibits people under the age of 21 from testifying in court proceedings.

Then, on Monday, the Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments in two motions to stay: one by Black Johnson and the other by a special prosecutor appointed at the request of the St. Louis County District Attorney’s Office, which secured Johnson’s conviction. first-degree murder charges and the death penalty for the death of Kirkwood Police Sgt. William McEntee.

Both motions sought a stay on the racial bias claims in St. Louis County Circuit Court, which previously rejected a special prosecutor’s request to vacate Johnson’s conviction, saying there was not enough time to hold a hearing on Johnson’s planned execution. .

“There is nothing here that Johnson has not already raised (and this Court has rejected), and even if it did, Johnson offers no basis for raising any new or restated versions of these oft-rejected claims. day,” said Monday’s decision.

Gov. Mike Parsons, a Republican, also rejected an apology from Johnson’s lawyers on Monday.

“Mr. Johnson received every protection afforded by the Missouri and United States Constitutions, and Mr. Johnson’s conviction and sentence will stand for his heinous and heinous crime,” Parson said. statement. “The State of Missouri will execute Mr. Johnson’s sentence as ordered by the Court and do justice.”

Johnson’s defense attorney accused the state Supreme Court’s decision Monday of a “complete disregard for the law in this case.”

“The prosecutor in this case requested a stay of execution based on incontrovertible evidence this past month that Mr. Johnson was executed because he was black,” said attorney Sean Nolan. “The Missouri Supreme Court recklessly refused to simply delay the date of Mr. Johnson’s execution so that the prosecutor could present this evidence to the lower court, and then refused to consider it in the trial court in light of the press at the time.

Meanwhile, attorneys for Johnson, 37, argued in court filings that racial discrimination played a role in his prosecution, citing requests by St. Louis County prosecutors to end “a long and pervasive racial bias in the handling of this case.” case and other capital prosecutions, including the office’s decisions about what crimes to charge, what punishments to impose, and which jurors to strike.”

At their request, prosecutors sought the death penalty for four of the five defendants convicted of killing a police officer in the line of duty — all of them Black, and the fifth White. In the case involving a white defendant, at Johnson’s request, prosecutors invited defense attorneys to present mitigating evidence that could persuade the office not to seek the death penalty — an opportunity not available to black defendants.

In addition, they emphasized study Political scientist at the University of North Carolina 408 criminal cases of murder have been initiated During this prosecutor’s office, when the victim was found, White demanded the death penalty.

Those claims appear to have been backed up by a special prosecutor appointed to the case last month after the St. Louis prosecutor’s office cited a conflict of interest. Special prosecutor Edward EE Keenan also “found that racist prosecution methods influenced Mr. Johnson’s conviction and death sentence,” he wrote in his motion for a stay.

The special counsel found “clear and convincing evidence of the prosecutor’s racial bias,” he wrote in the filing, citing evidence similar to that presented by Johnson’s attorneys in their motion for a stay.

The Missouri Attorney General’s Office challenged the stay, saying the complaints were without merit. The special counsel’s “unsubstantiated claims,” ​​the AG’s office said in a brief, do not constitute mitigation of state wrongdoing supporting the conviction.

“The McEntee family has waited a long time for justice,” the brief said, “and every day they wait is a day they are denied the opportunity to come to terms with their loss.”

Longtime St. Louis prosecutor Bob McCulloch, who was fired in 2018 after 27 years, denied that black and white defendants were treated differently.

“Show me a similar situation where the victim was Black and I didn’t ask for death,” he said This was reported by St. Louis Public Radio earlier this month about his time in office. “Then we have something to talk about. But there is no such situation.”

Johnson was sentenced to death for the July 5, 2005, killing of McEntee, 43, who was called to Johnson’s neighborhood in response to a report of fireworks.

That morning, Johnson’s 12-year-old brother died of a seizure at their family’s home, according to court records. At the time of the seizure, police sought to serve a warrant on Johnson, then 19, for a probation violation.

Johnson blamed the police, including McEntee, for his brother’s death. When McEntee returned to the neighborhood later that day, Johnson approached the sergeant’s patrol car, accused him of killing his brother, and opened fire.

He is survived by his wife, one daughter and two sons. according to Officer Down’s memorial page.

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