A judge has blocked a 19-year-old woman’s desperate plea to watch her father’s execution for a crime he committed at the age of 19 – because of a Missouri law that claims she is too young to see his death sentence carried out.
Corionsa “Khorry” Ramey, 19, has been barred from attending Kevin Johnson Jr.’s imminent execution for the 2005 murder of a police officer, after a judge sided with the state over its law that requires execution witnesses to be 21 or older.
Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit on her behalf challenging the law, calling it a violation of Ms Ramey’s constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
But, US District Judge Brian Wimes struck struck down the lawsuit in a written ruling, saying that the law does not violate her constitutional rights and that it is “in the public’s interest” to allow states to enforce their own laws.
Following the ruling, Ms Ramey spoke out to say that she is “heartbroken” that she cannot be with her father during his final moments.
“I’m heartbroken that I won’t be able to be with my dad in his last moments,” she said in a statement shared by the ACLU.
“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.”
Johnson is set to be put to death by lethal injection on Tuesday – after spending almost two decades on death row for shooting dead Kirkwood police officer William McEntee.
In an ironic twist, Johnson was 19 when he was handed the death penalty – the same age that his daughter is now deemed too young to see his death sentence carried out.
The fatal shooting unfolded in July 2005 when McEntee was among a group of police officers serving an arrest warrant on Johnson for a suspected probation violation.
When officers arrived at McEntee’s home, his 12-year-old brother Joseph “Bam Bam” Long ran next door to their grandmother’s house and collapsed from a seizure.
The boy, who suffered from a congenital heart defect, was taken to hospital where he died.
Just hours later, Johnson and McEntee encountered each other once again after the officer was called to respond to an unrelated incident in the neighbourhood.
Johnson shot and killed the officer – shooting him once when he saw him and a second time after McEntee had collapsed to the ground.
Johnson, now 37, testified at his trial that he blamed the police officer for his brother’s death because he had allegedly blocked their mother from rendering aid to the teenage boy.
The Black man’s attorneys are fighting for his life to be spared, arguing that he should be granted a stay of execution because his conviction and sentence were “infected by racism” from the get-go.
The Missouri Supreme Court will hear arguments on Monday.
Ms Ramey was just two years old when her father went to prison but have remained close throughout his incarceration.
If her father’s execution goes ahead as planned, it will mark the fifth execution in a US state this month – the busiest month so far this year.