Missouri is planning to execute an inmate on Tuesday, despite a plea from Pope Francis not to put him to death.
Gov. Mike Parson had been facing pressure to grant clemency for Ernest Johnson, who’s facing a death sentence for a 1994 triple murder – but he confirmed he wouldn’t take that step in a statement on the eve of the execution date.
“The state is prepared to deliver justice and carry out the lawful sentence Mr. Johnson received in accordance with the Missouri Supreme Court’s order,” Parson (R) said Monday.
Others calling to stop the 61-year-old inmate’s execution are Democratic Reps. Cori Bush and Emmanuel Cleaver. Johnson has been called “intellectually disabled” by his lawyers in court filings.
Attorney Jeremy Weis told the AP he was disappointed by the governor’s decision.
“We believe we made a compelling case to him that it was the right moral decision and I guess he disagreed,” Weis said.
Johnson confessed to killing three workers at a convenience store in Columbia with a hammer and screwdriver during a robbery.
The Pope had urged clemency not just because of Johnson’s “doubtful intellectual capacity,” Archbishop Christophe Pierre said in a letter to Parson on the pontiff’s behalf.
“His Holiness wishes to place before you the simple fact of Mr. Johnson’s humanity and the sacredness of all human life,” the letter stated, according to Vatican News.
“Is not a universal recognition of our sacred human dignity the best possible defense for society against the war and violence in our world?”
Johnson was convicted of the crime three times, with his first two sentences thrown out on appeal. He had asked to be killed by a firing squad rather than through the state’s controversial method of lethal injection, which he feared would cause painful seizures.
The Supreme Court rejected his request.
With Post wires