A 19-year-old woman is too young to witness the Missouri state execution of her father, who was sentenced to death for killing a police officer as a teenager, a federal judge has ruled.
Khorry Ramey requested to be present for Kevin Johnson’s final moments, but U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes said in a ruling that witnesses to the execution must be at least 21 years old, NBC News reported.
Missouri and Nevada are the only states that require witnesses to be 21, Ramey’s lawyers argued.
“I am heartbroken that I cannot be with my father in his final moments,” Ramey said in a statement, adding that he “worked very hard to readjust in prison. I pray that [Gov. Mike] Parson will grant clemency to my father.
Johnson, now 37, is expected to die by lethal injection November 29 for the 2005 murder of Kirkwood Police Officer William McEntee, a crime he committed when he was 19 and Ramey was 2.
He chose his daughter as one of five people allowed to witness his death, but the Missouri Department of Corrections denied the request, a decision the ACLU says violates both the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
“Missouri executes people, like Mr. Johnson, for crimes committed as adults, but before their 21st birthday, it illustrates the irrationality of the law’s requirement that execution witnesses must not only be adults but also be at least 21 years old”, filing states.
Missing his father’s execution will cause Ramey “irreparable harm”, his lawyers have said.
In a court statement earlier this week, Ramey called Johnson “the most important person in my life.”
Ramey and Johnson have a very close relationship and he is her only living relative, the ACLU said. She witnessed the murder of her mother at the hands of an ex-boyfriend when she was only 4 years old.
As the execution date nears, Johnson’s lawyers file an appeal to save his life. They admit Johnson’s guilt, but argue that a history of mental illness and argue that his age at the time of the crime should warrant court intervention. They also claim racism played a part in his death sentence – Johnson is black and McEntee was white.
McEntee arrived at Johnson’s home in 2005 to serve an arrest warrant on Johnson, who police say violated the probation he was on for assaulting his girlfriend.
When McEntee showed up at the house, Johnson’s younger brother, 12-year-old Joseph “Bam Bam” Long, ran past their grandmother’s house, where he collapsed and began to have a crisis.
Johnson testified that McEntee prevented the boys’ mother from entering the house to help the grabbing boy. Joseph later died in a hospital.
Seeing McEntee in the neighborhood later that evening, Johnson approached the officer and shot him twice.
“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,” said a state petition filed last week by the Missouri prosecutor. Office of the General at the Supreme Court.
With pole wires