A 19-year-old woman is asking a federal court to allow her to witness her father’s death by injection, despite a Missouri law prohibiting anyone under the age of 21 from witnessing an execution.
Kevin Johnson faces execution on November 29 for the 2005 murder of William McEntee, a Kirkwood, Missouri police officer. Johnson’s attorneys have pending appeals seeking to spare his life.
Meanwhile, Johnson has requested that her daughter, Khorry Ramey, attend the execution, and she wants to be there. On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed an emergency petition in federal court in Kansas City. The ACLU court filing said the law prohibiting anyone under the age of 21 from witnessing an execution serves no security purpose and violates Ramey’s constitutional rights.
Ramey, in a court statement, called Johnson “the most important person in my life.”
“If my father died in hospital, I would sit by his bed holding his hand and pray for him until he died, both as a source of support for him and as a support for me in the 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 pair were able to bond through visits, phone calls, emails and letters. Last month, she brought her newborn son to the prison to meet his grandfather.
“I have a son who needs his daddy and I’m a daughter who needs her daddy,” Ramey said, according to CBS KMOV Affiliate.
ACLU attorney Anthony Rothert said if Ramey could not attend the execution, it would cause him “irreparable harm.”
Michelle Smith, spokeswoman for Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, told KMOV that while a person can be sentenced to death at 19, a family member has the right to be a witness when the state executes its dad.
Meanwhile, Johnson’s lawyers filed an appeal to stop the execution. They do not dispute his guilt but say racism played a role in the decision to seek the death penalty and 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 on other grounds, including a history of mental illness and his age – he was 19 at the time of the crime. Courts have increasingly moved away from sentencing teenage offenders to death since the Supreme Court in 2005 banned the execution of offenders who were under 18 at the time of their crime.
In a filing last week in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Missouri attorney general’s office said there were no grounds for judicial intervention.
“The surviving victims of Johnson’s crimes have waited long enough for justice, and every day they have to wait is a day they are denied the opportunity to finally make peace with their loss,” the statement said. state petition.
McEntee, a husband and father of three, was among 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 believe he violated probation.
Johnson saw officers arrive and woke up his 12-year-old brother, Joseph “Bam Bam” Long, who ran past their grandmother’s house. Once there, the boy, who suffered from a congenital heart defect, collapsed and began having a seizure.
Johnson testified at trial that McEntee prevented his mother from entering the house to help his brother, who died shortly afterwards in a hospital.
Later that evening, McEntee returned to the neighborhood to verify unrelated reports of fireworks being set off. It was then that he met Johnson.
Johnson pulled out a gun and shot the officer. He then approached the wounded officer, kneeling, and shot him again, killing him.
The execution would be the first of three in the coming months in Missouri. The state plans to execute convicted killers Scott McLaughlin on January 3 and Leonard Taylor on February 7.
According to Death Penalty Information CenterMissouri has 20 death row inmates.
Sixteen men have been executed in the United States this year. Alabama inmate Kenneth Eugene Smith was due to die on Thursday for killing a preacher’s wife in a murder-for-hire plot, but execution was interrupted because state officials could not find a suitable vein to inject the deadly drugs.