Criminal Law

Kevin Johnson is scheduled to be executed Tueday. However Missouri legislation says his 19-year-old daughter is simply too younger to witness


A federal court docket has denied a 19-year-old’s request to let her witness her father’s execution on Tuesday, when the state of Missouri is scheduled to place him to dying for the 2005 homicide of police sergeant William McEntee.

Corionsa Ramey is barred from attending the execution of her father, Kevin Johnson, as a result of Missouri state legislation prohibits individuals youthful than 21 from witnessing the continuing. Ramey and attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union argued the legislation violated her constitutional rights underneath the First and Fourteenth Amendments, in line with her grievance towards state officers – which requested the court docket to forestall the state from executing Johnson except Ramey was permitted to attend as a witness.

“I’m heartbroken that I received’t have the ability to be with my dad in his final moments,” Ramey mentioned in an announcement shared by the ACLU. “My dad is crucial individual in my life. He has been there for me my entire life, regardless that he’s been incarcerated.”

Although he was charged with McEntee’s homicide when his daughter was simply 2 years previous, Johnson has remained an concerned mother or father, Ramey wrote in an affidavit to help her lawsuit, due to common visits, telephone calls and electronic mail. Simply final month, Ramey introduced her new child son to the jail to introduce her father to his grandson.

However whereas a federal decide acknowledged in his ruling the potential for Ramey to endure “emotional hurt,” he rejected her arguments, discovering the state had a “substantial curiosity within the sovereignty of its legal legislation enforcement.”

Corene Kendrick, deputy director of the ACLU’s Nationwide Jail Venture and one in every of Ramey’s legal professionals, mentioned in an announcement her authorized workforce was “extraordinarily upset within the resolution upholding this irrational and illogical legislation, which solely serves to gratuitously punish Ms. Ramey.”

Attorneys for Johnson, 37, are individually looking for a keep of execution, claiming racial discrimination performed a job in his prosecution, conviction and dying sentence; the Missouri Supreme Court docket is ready to listen to that case Monday. That declare is supported by a particular prosecutor not too long ago appointed on behalf of the St. Louis County Prosecuting Legal professional, who wrote in their very own movement for a keep that “purposeful racial discrimination contaminated” the method, not solely in Johnson’s scenario however in others through which the defendant was Black and the sufferer a police officer.

Johnson’s attorneys have additionally requested Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons to grant Johnson clemency, however the governor indicated to CNN affiliate KMOV final week his workplace intends for the execution to proceed as deliberate.

“You bought a man who went over there, chilly blooded killed a police officer by two pictures within the head after he shot him a number of occasions,” the governor mentioned. “It’s a fairly vicious crime. Generally you must reply the implications to that.”

Kevin Johnson is scheduled to be executed Tueday. However Missouri legislation says his 19-year-old daughter is simply too younger to witness

Johnson was 19 – the identical age his daughter is now, her attorneys famous – when he fatally shot McEntee, a police sergeant for the Kirkwood Police.

Earlier on the day of the killing, Johnson’s 12-year-old brother died after having a seizure at their household’s house, in line with court docket information. Police have been there on the time of the seizure, looking for to serve a warrant towards Johnson for a probation violation.

Johnson blamed the police, together with McEntee, for his brother’s dying. And hours later, as McEntee responded to a report of fireworks within the neighborhood, Johnson approached the sergeant’s patrol automotive, accused him of killing his brother and opened fireplace.

McEntee, a 20-year veteran of the Kirkwood power, was 43 years previous, in line with the Officer Down Memorial Web page. Among the many household he left behind have been a spouse, a daughter and two sons.

Typically, the 27 states that follow capital punishment permit a sure variety of witnesses to attend executions, together with members of the sufferer’s household, the inmate’s household and members of the press. In Missouri, because the condemned, Johnson is allowed to decide on as much as 5 witnesses, however state legislation barred his daughter from being one in every of them due to her age.

Missouri – the place executions have grow to be more and more uncommon, with only one or zero executions every year since 2016, per the Loss of life Penalty Info Heart – shouldn’t be alone in barring individuals of sure ages from witnessing executions.

In California, the place a moratorium on the dying penalty is at present in impact, nobody underneath the age of 18 is allowed to witness. Tennessee equally bars members of the sufferer’s household underneath the age of 18, and in Oklahoma, witnesses for the sufferer and the inmate should even be 18 or older.

However Ramey’s relationship along with her father underscored her “abiding curiosity in witnessing her father’s execution,” her grievance mentioned.

Two years after her father was charged with McEntee’s homicide, Ramey’s mom was killed, she wrote in her affidavit, leaving Johnson as Ramey’s solely residing mother or father.

Since then, Johnson and Ramey have labored to take care of a father-daughter relationship, regardless of his confinement on dying row, she and her attorneys mentioned in her grievance. Ramey would go to Johnson “as usually as household and pals have been in a position to take me to see him, and I communicate to him by telephone at the very least as soon as per week,” she wrote in her affidavit. When she will afford it, they correspond through electronic mail via the jail communication service JPay.

Johnson’s involvement is illustrated, Ramey and her attorneys mentioned, by the fatherly recommendation he’s given her through the years and his help of his daughter’s schooling, together with arranging for a tutorial liaison to maintain him up to date on her grades, which he monitored intently till she graduated two years in the past from highschool. He continues to encourage her as she tries to grow to be a nurse, they mentioned.

Kevin Johnson is shown at the Clayton Courthouse Tuesday, April 3, 2007, in Clayton, Missouri.

Two months in the past, Ramey gave beginning to a son, and her father has been her “greatest supply of help, recommendation, and love as I navigate adjusting to being a brand new mother,” she wrote.

In October, she took her son to satisfy her father, she writes. “My father was in a position to maintain his grandson, and we have been in a position to get {a photograph} taken collectively,” she mentioned. “It was a fantastic however bittersweet second for me, as a result of I notice that it could be the one time that my father would get to carry my son.”

Previous to the denial by the federal court docket, Kendrick referred to as the Missouri legislation barring individuals underneath 21 from witnessing executions “illogical and irrational,” including, “If the State of Missouri thinks that her father’s actions when he was 19 make him mature sufficient to warrant execution, then a 19-year-old needs to be mature sufficient to witness that execution.”

“I’ve suffered a lot loss in my life to date,” Ramey mentioned in her affidavit, referencing each her father’s incarceration and her mom’s killing. “It’s excruciating to know that I’m about to lose my father once more when the State kills him, but I can’t be current for his dying merely due to my age.”

“The truth that I won’t be able to present him consolation, and expertise any kind of grief or closure for myself, for no different purpose than I’m 19 years previous, is a brand new and recent loss,” she mentioned, “a complete injustice.”

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