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Lawmakers, pope ask Missouri governor to halt execution

Pope Francis has joined the refrain of individuals calling on Missouri Gov. Mike Parson to grant clemency to a dying row inmate who is about to be executed for killing three folks throughout a 1994 comfort retailer theft.

In a letter final week, a consultant for Pope Francis wrote that the pope “needs to position earlier than you the easy truth of Mr. Johnson’s humanity and the sacredness of all human life,” referring to Ernest Johnson, who’s scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. Tuesday on the state jail in Bonne Terre, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of St. Louis.

Parson, a Republican, has been contemplating whether or not to cut back the 61-year-old Johnson’s sentence to life in jail with out the potential for parole.

This undated picture offered by the Missouri Division of Corrections exhibits Ernest Johnson. Missouri dying row inmate Ernest Johnson shall be executed Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, except the courts or Gov. Mike Parson steps in. Johnson killed three folks throughout a 1994 theft at a comfort retailer in Columbia. His execution can be simply the seventh within the U.S. this 12 months. (the Missouri Division of Corrections by way of AP)

Johnson’s lawyer, Jeremy Weis, has mentioned executing him would violate the Eighth Modification to the U.S. Structure, which prohibits executing intellectually disabled folks. He mentioned a number of IQ assessments and different exams have proven that Johnson has the mental capability of a kid. He additionally was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and in 2008, he misplaced about 20% of his mind tissue to the removing of a benign tumor.

Racial justice activists and two Missouri members of congress — Democratic U.S. Reps. Cori Bush of St. Louis and Emmanuel Cleaver of Kansas Metropolis — have additionally known as on Parson to point out mercy to Johnson, who’s Black.

The Missouri Supreme Court docket in August refused to halt the execution, and on Friday declined to take the case up once more.

Johnson admitted to killing three employees at a Casey’s Normal Retailer in Columbia on Feb. 12, 1994 — supervisor Mary Bratcher, 46, and workers Mabel Scruggs, 57, and Fred Jones, 58. The victims have been shot and attacked with a claw hammer. Bratcher additionally was stabbed within the hand with a screwdriver.

At Johnson’s girlfriend’s home, officers discovered a bag containing $443, coin wrappers, partially burned checks and tennis sneakers matching bloody shoeprints discovered inside the shop.

Johnson beforehand requested that his execution be carried out by firing squad, however Missouri doesn’t enable that methodology of execution. His legal professionals argued that Missouri’s deadly injection drug, pentobarbital, might set off seizures as a result of misplaced mind tissue.

Johnson was sentenced to dying in his first trial and two different occasions. The second dying sentence, in 2003, got here after the U.S. Supreme Court docket dominated that executing the mentally in poor health was unconstitutionally merciless. The Missouri Supreme Court docket tossed that second dying sentence and Johnson was sentenced for a 3rd time in 2006.

If the execution takes place as scheduled, it might be the seventh within the U.S. this 12 months however the first not involving both a federal inmate or a prisoner in Texas.

The height 12 months for contemporary executions was 1999, when there have been 98 throughout the U.S. That quantity had steadily declined and simply 17 folks have been executed final 12 months — 10 involving federal prisoners, three in Texas and one every in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Missouri, in response to a database compiled by the Loss of life Penalty Data Heart.

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