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Convicted Columbia murderer Ernest Lee Johnson set to be executed Tuesday

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Ernest Lee Johnson


Convicted Columbia murderer Ernest Lee Johnson is set to be executed Tuesday night in Bonne Terre, Missouri.

Johnson was convicted of a triple murder at Casey's General Store along Rice Road in Columbia in 1995.

In February of 1994, Johnson robbed the convenience store after using drugs and hit, shot, and stabbed Mary Bratcher, Fred Jones, and Mabel Scruggs to death.

Johnson was sentenced to death for the murders but the Missouri Supreme Court overturned his sentencing in 1998 because of his mental disability. The ruling was then reversed in 1999.

In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states couldn't execute people with mental disabilities. Johnson was later given the death penalty again from a jury in 2006.

Hours before Johnson was set to be executed in November of 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a lower court needed to hear out his claim about a painful death by lethal injection which might cause potentially painful seizures.

Johnson requested he be killed by a nitrogen gas but this type of execution was never used in the U.S. before.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a different case that inmates on death row couldn't force states to use new methods of execution and later refused to hear Johnson's case.

Johnson then asked he be executed by the firing squad but this request was also denied.

Clemency Denied

Thousands of people including lawmakers and Pope Francis asked Missouri Governor Mike Parson to grant Johnson clemency.

In a press release sent out on Monday, the governor announced the state would carry out the execution of Johnson on Tuesday.

“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,” Governor Parson said.

Johnson will be 61-years-old at the time of his death.

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Meghan Drakas

Meghan joined ABC 17 News in January 2021.
The Penn State grad is from the Philadelphia suburbs where she interned with several local TV stations.


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