A US federal judge has denied a 19-year-old woman’s request to be allowed to witness her father’s death by injection, upholding a Missouri law barring anyone under the age of 21 from witnessing an execution .
Kevin Johnson is due to be executed Tuesday for killing Kirkwood police officer William McEntee in 2005. Johnson’s attorneys have appeals pending seeking to spare his life.
His daughter, Khorry Ramey, had sought to witness the execution, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had filed an emergency petition in federal court in Kansas City. The ACLU court filing said the age requirement served no security purpose and violated Ramey’s constitutional rights. But U.S. District Judge Brian C Wimes ruled late Friday that Ramey’s constitutional rights would not be violated by law.
“I am heartbroken that I cannot be with my father in his final moments,” Ramey said in a statement. “My father is the most important person in my life. He’s been there for me all my life, even though he’s been incarcerated.
Although the judge acknowledged that the law would cause emotional harm to Ramey, he concluded that this was only part of the court’s consideration and that the law did not violate his constitutional rights.
Ramey said she was praying for Governor Michael Parson to grant her father clemency. Johnson’s lawyers appealed to stop the execution. They do not dispute his guilt but say racism played a role in the decision to seek the death penalty and the jury’s decision to sentence him to death. Johnson is black and McEntee was white.
Johnson’s lawyers have also asked the courts to intervene on other grounds, including a history of mental illness and his age – he was 19 at the time of the crime. Courts have increasingly moved away from sentencing teenage offenders to death since the Supreme Court in 2005 banned the execution of offenders who were under 18 at the time of their crime.
In a filing with the U.S. Supreme Court, the Missouri attorney general’s office said there were no grounds for court intervention.
“The surviving victims of Johnson’s crimes have waited long enough for justice, and every day they have to wait is a day they are denied the opportunity to finally make peace with their loss,” the statement said. state petition.