A 19-year-old woman is asking a federal court to let her watch her father’s death by injection, despite a Missouri law prohibiting anyone under 21 from witnessing an execution.
Kevin Johnson faces execution on November 29 for killing police officer William McEntee in Kirkwood, Missouri, in 2005. Johnson’s attorneys have pending appeals seeking to save his life.
Meanwhile, Johnson has requested that his daughter, Khorry Ramey, attend the execution and she wants to be there. On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed an emergency motion in federal court in Kansas City. The ACLU court filing says the law banning those under 21 serves no security purpose and violates Ramey’s constitutional rights.
Ramey, in a court deposition, called Johnson “the most important person in my life.”
“If my father were dying in the hospital, I would sit at his bedside holding his hand and praying for him until he died, both as a source of support for him and for me as a necessary part of my grieving process. and for my peace of mind,” Ramey said.
Johnson, now 37, has been incarcerated since Ramey was 2 years old. The ACLU said the two have been able to build a bond through visits, phone calls, emails and letters. Last month, he took his newborn son to the prison to meet his grandfather.
ACLU attorney Anthony Rothert said if Ramey is unable to attend the execution, it will cause him “irreparable harm.”
Meanwhile, Johnson’s lawyers have filed appeals to stop the execution. They do not question his guilt, but claim that racism played a role in the decision to seek the death penalty and in the jury’s decision to sentence him to death. Johnson is black and McEntee was white.
Johnson’s lawyers have also asked the courts to intervene for other reasons, including a history of mental illness and his age — he was 19 at the time of the crime. Courts have moved further away from sentencing adolescent offenders to death since the Supreme Court in 2005 banned the execution of offenders who were under 18 at the time of the crime.
In a court filing last week with the US Supreme Court, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office stated that there were no grounds for judicial intervention.
“The surviving victims of Johnson’s crimes have waited long enough for justice, and every day longer they wait is a day they are denied the chance to finally come to terms with their loss,” the state petition read.
McEntee, a husband and father of three, was one of the police officers sent to Johnson’s home on July 5, 2005, to serve a warrant for his arrest. Johnson was on probation for assaulting his girlfriend, and police believed he had violated probation.
Johnson saw the officers arrive and woke up his 12-year-old brother, Joseph “Bam Bam” Long, who was running next door to his grandmother’s house. While there, the boy, who was suffering from a congenital heart defect, collapsed and began having seizures.
Johnson testified at trial that McEntee prevented her mother from entering the house to help her brother, who died a short time later at a hospital.
Later that night, McEntee returned to the neighborhood to verify unrelated reports of fireworks going off. It was then that he met Johnson.
Johnson pulled out a gun and shot the officer. He then approached the kneeling wounded officer and fired again, killing him.
The execution would be the first of three in the coming months in Missouri. The state plans to execute convicted murderers Scott McLaughlin on January 3 and Leonard Taylor on February 7.
Sixteen men have been executed in the United States this year. The Alabama Inmate Kenneth Eugene Smith he was scheduled to die Thursday for killing a preacher’s wife in a murder-for-hire plot, but the execution was halted because state officials were unable to find a suitable vein to inject the deadly drugs.