Missouri authorities on Tuesday executed a man convicted of killing three people in a shop robbery in 1994, despite a request for a pardon from Pope Francis and other politicians and activists.
The man, Ernest Lee Johnson, was executed by lethal injection in Bonne Terre Prison on Tuesday, the Missouri Prison Department announced. The Ministry has published a letter from Johnson apologizing and showing his regret for his actions, according to the American newspaper “The New York Times”.
In late September, Pope Francis called on Missouri Governor Mike Parson to grant Johnson a pardon, an appeal that was followed by Congressmen Cori Bush and Emanuel Cleaver II. However, the Supreme Court denied a motion to cease the execution early Tuesday, which was eventually carried out.
The Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, affirmed in a letter “in the name of the Holy Father” that the appeal was not based “on the facts and circumstances of the crimes” but on “the dubious intellectual ability”. “by Johnson.” Who could say that such serious crimes require severe penalties? “he wondered.
“His Holiness wants you to highlight the simple fact of Johnson’s humanity and the sanctity of all human life,” said Pierre, who urged Parson to remember that “when all violence of all kinds is limited, even the violence of a legal execution. the whole society benefits, “as gathered from the Vatican News portal.
Parson himself said Monday that Johnson would be executed on Tuesday as planned. “The state stands ready to bring justice to justice under orders from the Missouri Supreme Court and to enforce the conviction of Johnson,” said the governor, a Republican Party member.
Johnson’s attorney Jeremy Weis confirmed that in August the state Supreme Court had denied his client’s motion to avoid execution because of his intellectual disability, as well as his application for firing squad execution.
The United States Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that the execution of a person with an intellectual disability was in violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibiting cruel or unusual sentences. However, the courts found that Johnson’s memories of the crime enabled them to claim he was able “to plan, plan and solve problems contrary to substantially below average knowledge”.
Johnson killed three grocery store clerks during a robbery in February 1994 to raise money to buy drugs, according to court documents in the case. A jury in Boones County convicted him of murder and sentenced him to death in 2005, which was upheld by higher courts.