Missouri executes Ernest Lee Johnson – despite mental disability and protest even from Vatican
On Tuesday night, 61-year-old Ernest Lee Johnson was executed by lethal injection by the state of Missouri.
He was sentenced to death for a 1994 robbery-murder in which he beat to death three convenience store employees.
The death sentence was carried out after the governor of Missouri and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene against the execution.
Johnson’s attorneys argued that he had exhibited signs of mental retardation since birth and that his disability had worsened since a 2008 surgery that partially removed a brain tumor along with up to 20 percent of Johnson’s brain tissue.
The U.S. Constitution prohibits the execution of mentally disabled offenders. Johnson’s IQ was repeatedly measured between 67 and 77, and he had the mentality of a 12-year-old.
Two congressmen and even the Vatican lobbied for him, but they fell on deaf ears with Missouri’s governor.