Missouri Executes Man for Killing Three in 1994 Despite Mental Capacity of a Child


A Missouri man convicted of beating three people to death while robbing a convenience store in 1994 was executed Tuesday.

After Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, declined to grant clemency despite calls from Pope Francis, lawmakers and activists, Ernest Lee Johnson was executed by lethal injection in the state prison in Bonne Terre, Missouri. 

The pope and others, including Missouri Democratic Reps. Cori Bush and Emanuel Cleaver, pressed Parson to grant clemency, since Johnson had been born with fetal alcohol syndrome and lost 20% of his brain tissue after a tumor was removed in 2008.

According to his lawyer, multiple IQ tests have shown that Johnson had the intellectual capacity of a child, Axios reports. Johnson’s lawyer argued that executing an intellectually disabled person would violate the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

However, Parson said in a statement that ”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,” and that ”Mr. Johnson’s claim that he is not competent to be executed has been reviewed and rejected by a jury and the courts six different times, including a unanimous decision by the Missouri Supreme Court.”