Condemned Missouri man asks Supreme Court to intervene

Nov 10, 2022, 12:39 PM | Updated: 12:59 pm
This photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows Kevin Johnson. The Missouri man...

This photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows Kevin Johnson. The Missouri man sentenced to death for killing a police officer in a fit of rage over his brother's death is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the execution planned for later this month, in part because the man was a teenager at the time of the killing. (Missouri Department of Corrections via AP)

(Missouri Department of Corrections via AP)

A Missouri man sentenced to death for killing a police officer in a fit of rage over his brother’s death is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the execution planned for later this month, in part because the man was a teenager at the time of the killing.

Kevin Johnson is scheduled to die by injection Nov. 29 at the state prison in Bonne Terre, Missouri. Johnson, now 37, killed Kirkwood, Missouri, Police Officer William McEntee in 2005. It would be just the 14th execution in the U.S., but the first of three planned in Missouri in upcoming months. The other two in Missouri are set for early 2023.

An appeal was filed to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, a day after the Missouri Supreme Court declined to grant a stay.

Johnson’s lawyer cites concerns about racial bias. The court petition states that if not for racial comments by two white jurors at his trial, Johnson, who is Black, could have been convicted of second-degree murder instead of first-degree, and been spared the death penalty.

The petition also cited Johnson’s age. He was 19 at the time of the killing.

“A late adolescent of 18 to 20 years has the intellectual maturity of an adult but the emotional maturity and response inhibition of a younger teenager,” the court filing states. “Those limitations are all the more important in Johnson’s case. Johnson has a history of psychiatric hospitalization, a suicide attempt at the age of 14, a major depressive disorder, and auditory hallucinations.”

The Supreme Court in 2005 banned the execution of offenders who were younger than 18 when they commited crimes. While that didn’t directly apply to Johnson’s case, local courts have increasingly moved away from sentencing teen offenders to death. Johnson’s petition states that nationally, death sentences for those ages 18-20 at the time of the crime were imposed just once in 2018, twice in 2019, and not at all in 2020 or 2021.

A spokesman for the Missouri Attorney General’s office didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

McEntee, a husband and father of three, was among the police officers 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 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. Once there, the boy — who suffered from a congenital heart defect — collapsed and began having a seizure.

Johnson testified at trial that McEntee kept his mother from entering the house to aid Bam Bam, who died a short time later at a hospital.

In an interview earlier this month with St. Louis Public Radio, Johnson recalled kicking his bedroom door off its hinges and then roaming the neighborhood angry at McEntee for holding back his mom as Bam Bam convulsed, screaming “He killed my brother!”

Later that evening, McEntee returned to the neighborhood to check on unrelated reports of fireworks being shot off. That’s when he encountered Johnson.

Johnson pulled a gun and shot the officer, killing him.

In the interview with St. Louis Public Radio, Johnson took responsibility for the killing.

“I think as humans, we tend to shift the blame,” Johnson said. “I don’t think (McEntee) did anything that was wrong that day that I can even blame him for.”

The Missouri Supreme Court also has set execution dates of Jan. 3 for Scott McLaughlin, and Feb. 7 for Leonard Taylor.

McLaughlin was convicted of killing 45-year-old Beverly Guenther in 2003. She was raped and stabbed to death outside of her workplace in St. Louis County.

Taylor fatally shot 28-year-old Angela Rowe and her three young children in the St. Louis area in 2004.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, speaks during a reception to celeb...
Associated Press

Emhoff: ‘Epidemic of hate’ exists in US, can’t be normalized

WASHINGTON (AP) — Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, says a rise in antisemitism in the United States shows that an “epidemic of hate” exists in the country and cannot be normalized. Emhoff, who is Jewish, was leading a White House discussion on the issue Wednesday with Jewish leaders representing the Reform, […]
7 hours ago
FILE - In this photo released by the U.S. Navy, the destroyer USS Shaw explodes after being hit by ...
Associated Press

Hawaii remembrance to draw handful of Pearl Harbor survivors

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) — A handful of centenarian survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor are expected to gather at the scene of the Japanese bombing on Wednesday to commemorate those who perished 81 years ago. That’s fewer than in recent years, when a dozen or more traveled to Hawaii from across the country […]
7 hours ago
FILE -  New York Yankees' Aaron Judge gestures as he runs the bases after hitting a solo home run, ...
Associated Press

AP source: Aaron Judge, Yankees reach $360M, 9-year deal

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Aaron Judge has agreed to return to the New York Yankees on a $360 million, nine-year contract, according to a person familiar with the deal. The person spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday because the deal had not been announced. Judge will earn $40 million per season, the highest average […]
7 hours ago
Mark Hager, left, positions a camera with the help of Anthony Lucia, right, as captain Al Cottone w...
Associated Press

Could trawler cams help save world’s dwindling fish stocks?

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — For years, Mark Hager’s job as an observer aboard New England fishing boats made him a marked man, seen as a meddling cop on the ocean, counting and scrutinizing every cod, haddock and flounder to help set crucial quotas. On one particularly perilous voyage, he was met on the dock at […]
7 hours ago
FILE - Juul products are displayed at a smoke shop in New York, on Dec. 20, 2018. Embattled vaping ...
Associated Press

Juul reaches settlements covering more than 5,000 cases

Juul Labs has reached settlements covering more than 5,000 cases brought by about 10,000 plaintiffs related to its vaping products. Financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but Juul said that it has secured an equity investment to fund it. Buffeted by lawsuits, Juul announced hundreds of layoffs last month and bankruptcy appeared increasingly […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Editorial Roundup: United States

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad: Dec. 5 The Washington Post on microchips, the U.S. and the future When President Biden visits a microchip factory under construction in Arizona, it might look like a political victory lap: The factory will bring $12 billion and thousands of jobs to an important swing […]
7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Condemned Missouri man asks Supreme Court to intervene