(RightWing.org) – Currently, 27 states authorize capital punishment, and 23 prohibit the practice. That figure roughly follows Pew Research’s latest polling on the subject, showing that 59% of adult Americans support the death penalty. However, controversy continues to surround the use of the procedure on incapacitated individuals and Missouri recently executed a man after the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) rejected efforts to block it.
On August 1, Missouri correctional officials administered a lethal dose of pentobarbital to convicted murderer Johnny Johnson, 45, after SCOTUS issued an order denying his legal team’s application for a stay of his execution.
In July 2002, a jury convicted Johnson of murdering Casey Williamson earlier that year. Evidence presented at his trial showed that he had attended a cookout at her family’s home the night before her disappearance. The following morning, he lured the six-year-old girl, still dressed in her nightgown, to an abandoned factory where he attempted to assault her and subsequently murdered her as she tried to escape.
The Missouri Supreme Court denied Johnson’s lawyer’s attempt to block the execution on the grounds he had schizophrenia and could not understand the link between his crime and the resulting punishment. Likewise, the full panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently lifted a stay placed on his execution issued by a three-judge panel.
Missouri’s Republican Governor, Mike Parson, issued a statement the day before the execution confirming the state would carry out the sentence. He said Johnson’s crime was “one of the most horrific murders” to reach his desk.
The governor noted that the courts consistently ruled in favor of Johnson’s competency to stand trial and face the sentence handed down for his crimes. Additionally, Parsons wrote that by his own admission, the inmate understood why he faced the death penalty.
Parson also said he hoped the inmate’s execution would provide some sense of closure to the victim’s loved ones.
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