Johnny Johnson, 45, was executed by lethal injection Tuesday evening at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, for the brutal slaying of Casey Williamson more than 21 years ago. Photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Corrections/Website
Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Missouri executed a man by lethal injection Tuesday for the 2002 kidnapping and murder of a 6-year-old girl, after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his defense attorneys' last-minute appeal for clemency.
Johnny Johnson, 45, was executed Tuesday evening at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, for the brutal slaying of Casey Williamson more than 21 years ago.
He was pronounced dead at 6:33 p.m., the Missouri Department of Corrections told UPI in an emailed statement.
Johnson wrote in his final statement, dated Sunday, "God Bless. Sorry to the people and family I hurt." Every word, aside from "God Bless," was written on separate lines.
Johnny Johnson, 45, was executed Tuesday evening at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, for the brutal slaying of Casey Williamson more than 21 years ago. His last official statement is dated July 30, 2023. Image courtesy of Missouri Department of Corrections/UPI
Johnson was executed after the conservative-leaning Supreme Court rejected a final request for a stay by his attorneys.
Liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson dissented.
In her dissenting opinion, Sotomayor wrote that the defense has "presented extensive threshold evidence of incompetency -- including voluminous medical records documenting his decades-long struggle with mental illness and a 55-page report from his psychiatrist."
"The court today paves the way to execute a man with documented mental illness before any court meaningfully investigates his competency to be executed," she wrote.
"There is no moral victory in executing someone who believes Satan is killing him to bring about the end of the world."
"He deserves a hearing where a court can finally determine whether his execution violates the Eighth Amendment. Instead, this court rushes to finality, bypassing fundamental procedural and substantive protections."
Republican Gov. Mike Parson issued a statement Monday confirming he had signed Johnson's death warrant, ordering prison officials to carry out Missouri's fourth execution of the year after the state Supreme Court ruled the sentence could move forward.
"Johnny Johnson's crime is one of the most horrific murders that has come across my desk," Parson wrote. "Casey was an innocent young girl who bravely fought Johnson until he took her life. My office has received countless letters in the last few weeks seeking justice for Casey. Although this won't bring her back, we hope that carrying out Johnson's sentence according to the court's order may provide some closure for Casey's loved ones."
Johnson has been on death row since his conviction in 2005 on counts of first-degree murder, kidnapping and attempted rape.
Three years prior, he abducted Williamson and took the girl to an abandoned glass factory in St. Louis County, where he tried to rape her. Evidence showed Williamson fought back valiantly before Johnson overpowered the child and crushed her skull with a "basketball-sized boulder."
Several months before the killing, Johnson was released from a state psychiatric hospital, and later that summer he moved in with a friend at a home where Williamson also lived.
The girl was reported missing the day after Johnson arrived. He would later confess to bludgeoning the girl with a brick before striking the fatal blow. He was 24 at the time.
Johnson's defense team claims he "was in the grips of active psychosis" during the crime, and said he was still suffering from schizophrenia and other mental disabilities that made him incompetent to be put to death.
Additionally, they say, Johnson was physically and sexually abused as a child, and that he continues to hear voices that aren't there.
The condemned man "believes that the reason for his impending execution is that Satan is using the State of Missouri to bring about the end of the world," attorneys wrote in Johnson's clemency application.
Parson, however, said the Missouri Supreme Court and a federal appeals court had already ruled Johnson was competent at the time of the killing, and that he "is competent now."
"By his own admission, Johnson understands that he is going to be executed because of his crime," Parson's office wrote Monday.
U.S. Reps. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., and Cori Bush, D-Mo., wrote a letter to the governor urging Parson to stop the execution.
"There is extensive evidence that Mr. Johnson does not have a rational understanding of the reasons for his execution," they wrote.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican's ambassador to the U.S., also put pressure on Parson to stay the execution in a letter to the governor on behalf of Pope Francis.
"Our challenge is to honor this sacred gift of life from the Creator, even when it is difficult to do so, and even if Mr. Johnson has not honored the life of Casey," Pierre wrote. "Mr. Johnson has indeed forfeited his liberty by his criminal conduct, but he has not forfeited his humanity.