Kevin Johnson’s legal counsel doesn’t dispute that he shot Officer William McEntee in 2005. However, he argued in an appeal before the Missouri Supreme Court that Johnson was sentenced in part to death because he’s Black. In a 5-2 ruling, the state Supreme Court refused to grant a stay. Johnson’s lawyers appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. It also denied Johnson’s request for a stay.
Shawn Nolan (one of his lawyers) stated that Kevin Johnson is being executed by the State of Missouri tonight. He was not accused of any crimes but because Johnson is Black.
Gov. Mike Parson, Monday’s governor, stated that he would not grant any clemency.
Parson, a Republican who was also a former sheriff of a county, stated in a statement that “violent murder of any Missouri citizen let alone a law enforcement officer should be dealt with only with the maximum punishment permitted by state law.” “Through Mr. Johnson’s own wicked actions, he stole Sergeant McEntee’s life and left behind a devastated family, a widowed woman, and children without a father. Johnson, 37 years old, is scheduled to be executed Tuesday at Bonne Terre’s state prison. He would be the second Missourian executed in 2022, and the 17th nationwide.
McEntee, 43 years old, was a twenty-year veteran of Kirkwood’s police department, a St. Louis suburb. Johnson was the father of three when McEntee was sent to his home to serve a warrant. Johnson was on probation after he assaulted his girlfriend. Police believed that he had broken probation.
Johnson witnessed officers arrive, and Johnson woke Joseph Long, his 12-year-old brother. Long ran to a neighboring house. The boy, who was born with a congenital defect of the heart, fell to his death and started having seizures.
Johnson testified during trial that McEntee prohibited his mother from entering the home to assist his brother, who died shortly afterwards in a hospital.
McEntee also returned to the neighborhood that night to investigate unrelated reports of fireworks being lit. According to the Missouri attorney-general’s office, McEntee was driving with three children and Johnson opened the passenger-side windows. Johnson then shot McEntee through his leg, head, and trunk. Johnson then got into McEntee’s car and took McEntee’s firearm.
According to court filings Johnson said that he walked down the street to tell his mother McEntee “let his brother die” and that McEntee was “needs the experience of dying.” But she later told Johnson, “That’s false.” Johnson returned to the scene where McEntee was found alive, lying on his back near the patrol vehicle. Johnson shot McEntee in McEntee’s head and back, thereby killing him.
Johnson’s lawyers previously asked for the courts to intervene due to Johnson’s history of mental illness, and Johnson being 19 years old at the time. Since 2005, the Supreme Court prohibited executions for juvenile offenders.
The appeals focussed more on racial bias. Mary Elizabeth Ott, St. Louis Circuit Judge appointed in October a special prosecutor to examine the case. E.E. Keenan filed a motion earlier in the month to vacate his death sentence. Keenan argued that race played a decisive factor in the death sentence.
Ott declined to abrogate the death penalty.
Keenan stated to the state Supreme Court Monday that Bob McCulloch was the ex-St. Louis County Prosecutor and handled five cases regarding the deaths or involuntary demise of police officers over his 28-year tenure. McCulloch requested the death penalty for four cases involving Black criminals, but he did not seek death for the case involving a white defendant, Keenan explained.
Andrew Crane, Assistant Attorney General of the United States, replied that McCulloch deserved the death penalty. McCulloch did not have a telephone number and could not reach McCulloch for comment.
Khorry, Johnson’s teenage daughter, wanted to see the execution. However, a state law forbids anyone under 21 from watching the proceedings. Ramey was not granted assistance by the courts.
In 1999, the U.S. had 98 executions. But this has been drastically reduced in recent years. Missouri already has two executions scheduled for the early 2023. Scott McLaughlin, convicted killer, will die on January 3, while Leonard Taylor is scheduled for execution on February 7.