Kevin Johnson, 37, was sentenced to death for killing a police officer in 2005 His daughter made a request with the help of the ACLU to view the execution The court has said disallowing her from watching it is not unconstitutional A federal judge said the state does not want young adults to witness death Corionsa Ramey was two when her father was put in prison for the killing She developed her relationship with her father through visits, calls and letters Now she has asked for the Missouri governor to grant her father clemency Kevin Johnson is due to be executed on Tuesday November 29 for killing a cop
A federal court in Missouri has denied a 19-year-old woman’s request to watch her father receive a lethal injection tomorrow – upholding a state law that prevents under 21s from watching executions.
Corionsa Ramey, 19, filed a petition last week with the help of the ACLU arguing the Missouri law was a breach of her First and 14th Amendment rights.
But a federal judge has disallowed Ramey from watching the execution of her father Kevin Johnson, 37, as they are not treating her ‘less favorably than similarly situated people’.
Johnson was sentenced to death for killing a cop in St. Louis in 2005 and is due to be executed on Tuesday, November 29.
He was put on death row after fatally shooting Missouri police officer William McEntee in a fit of rage after the death of his 12-year-old brother hours earlier.
Judge Brian C. Wimes said in the judgement that states are able to ‘discriminate on the basis of age’ without offending the Fourteenth Amendment if the age classification is ‘rational’.
Disallowing Corionsa Ramey (left), 19, from watching the execution of Kevin Johnson (right), 37, was not unconstitutional, a federal judge has ruled
Ramey, 19, was two when her father was imprisoned for the fatal shooting and at the age of four witnessed her mother being murdered by an ex-boyfriend
Wimes reiterated the state’s initial response to her petition in which it said it sought to prevent ‘young adults’ from ‘witnessing death’ and feared that ‘young adults may be more inclined to act out in ways that are disruptive to the proceedings’.
They said that could result in a security threat during the execution.
The judge also wrote in the order that he was not satisfied that being unable to witness the execution would cause her ‘irreparable harm’.
In an affidavit submitted to the court last Monday Ramey cites the close relationship she developed with her father, who has been in prison since she was two.
She also says that not only did she lose her father to prison, she also witnessed the murder of her mother just two years later, aged only four.
Ramey expressed sorrow at the decision and appealed to the Missouri governor for clemency for her father.
‘I’m heartbroken that I won’t be able to be with my dad in his last moments,’ she said in an ACLU press release.
‘My dad is the most important person in my life. He has been there for me my whole life, even though he’s been incarcerated. He is a good father, the only parent I have left. He has worked very hard to rehabilitate himself in prison. I pray that Governor Parson will give my dad clemency.’
‘We are extremely disappointed in the decision upholding this irrational and illogical law, which only serves to gratuitously punish Ms. Ramey,’ said Corene Kendrick, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project.
‘Compounding her pain and grief by barring her from being with her father will do nothing to provide closure or healing to anyone else.
‘The State of Missouri can still do right by Ms. Ramey if the Governor grants her father clemency. If 19 is not old enough to witness an execution, then the state should spare Mr. Johnson’s life for what he did when he was 19,’ she added.
Judge Brian C. Wimes denied the ACLU petition that Ramey should be allowed to watch the execution in an order last Friday
The order denying Ramey access was written by US district court judge Brian C. Wimes
A photo provided by the ACLU shows Corionsa ‘Khorry’ Ramey (left), 19, introducing her newborn son to her father Kevin Johnson (right) in prison last month
Ramey (right) has appealed to a federal court in Kansas City for permission to view the execution of her father Johnson (left) by lethal injection
In her appeal to the federal court in Kansas City Johnson’s daughter Ramey described him as ‘the most important person in my life’.
Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union filed the emergency motion arguing that laws prohibiting people under 21 from watching executions not only serve no purpose but also violate constitutional rights.
‘If my father were dying in the hospital, I would sit by his bed holding his hand and praying for him until his death, both as a source of support for him, and as a support for me as a necessary part of my grieving process and for my peace of mind,’ Ramey said in a court document.
Missouri police officer William McEntee was fatally shot by Kevin Johnson in 2005
ACLU attorney Anthony Rothert said if Ramey (pictured) is prevented from attending the execution it will cause her ‘irreparable harm’
Johnson at the Clayton Courthouse in April 2007 moments after the jury in his trial were unable to reach a unanimous decision, resulting in a mistrial
Kevin Johnson faces execution on November 29 for killing Kirkwood police officer McEntee in 2005.
McEntee, a husband and father of three, was sent to Johnson’s home on July 5, 2005, to serve a warrant for his arrest. Johnson was on probation for assaulting his girlfriend and police believed he had violated his probation.
Johnson saw officers arrive and awoke his 12-year-old brother, Joseph ‘Bam Bam’ Long, who ran next door to their grandmother’s house.
At her house the boy suffered from a congenital heart defect causing him to have a seizure and die shortly after in hospital.
Johnson testified at trial that McEntee kept his mother from entering the house to help his dying brother.
Later that evening in 2005, McEntee returned to the neighborhood in response to unrelated reports of fireworks being fired. He then bumped into Johnson.
Johnson pulled a gun and shot McEntee. He then approached the wounded, kneeling officer and shot him again, killing him.
Kevin Johnson faces execution November 29 for killing Kirkwood police officer McEntee in 2005
Johnson, now 37, has been incarcerated since Ramey was two. The ACLU said the father and daughter were able to build a bond through visits, phone calls, emails and letters.
Last month, she brought her newborn son to the prison to meet his grandfather.
ACLU attorney Anthony Rothert said if Ramey is prevented from attending the execution it will cause her ‘irreparable harm’.
An ACLU filing argues that the state law violates Ramey’s right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment and her First Amendment right of association.
It says that the 21 age threshold is not reasonable and does not serve any safety purpose.
It also argues that in federal executions and in the overwhelming majority of death penalty states there is no age requirement for family of the sentenced inmate to witness an execution, or the minimum age is 18.
Johnson murdered McEntee in a fit of rage hours after the death of his 12-year-old brother
According to the ACLU, Ramey (left) and Johnson (right) were able to build a bond with each other through visits, phone calls, emails and letters (photo taken in prison)
Meanwhile, Johnson’s lawyers have filed different appeals seeking to halt the execution.
Although they don’t challenge that he is guilty they claim racism played a role in the jury’s decision to give him the death penalty since McEntee was white.
Johnson’s lawyers also have asked the courts to intervene for other reasons, including a history of mental illness and his age. Johnson was 19 at the time of the killing.
Courts have increasingly stopped sentencing teenagers to death since the Supreme Court in 2005 banned the execution of defendants who were younger than 18 at the time of their crime.
In a court filing last week to the US Supreme Court, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office stated there were no grounds for court intervention.
‘The surviving victims of Johnson’s crimes have waited long enough for justice, and every day longer that they must wait is a day they are denied the chance to finally make peace with their loss,’ the state petition said.
Johnson waits in the Clayton Courthouse for his trial to begin in March 2007
Johnson’s execution would be the first of three in the coming months in Missouri (photo taken in prison)
Johnson’s execution would be the first of three in the coming months in Missouri.
The state plans to execute convicted killers Scott McLaughlin on January 3 and Leonard Taylor on February 7.
Sixteen men have been executed in the US this year.