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The State of Missouri Dismisses a 19-year-old Girl’s Plea to See Her Father’s Execution in Federal Court
A 19-year-application old’s to be allowed to attend her father’s execution on Tuesday, when the state of Missouri is slated to execute him for the 2005 murder of police sergeant William McEntee, was denied by a federal judge.
Because it is illegal for anybody under the age of 21 to witness an execution in Missouri, Corionsa Ramey is unable to attend the execution of her father, Kevin Johnson. According to Ramey’s complaint against state officials, which asked the court to stop Johnson’s execution unless Ramey was given permission to attend as a witness, Ramey and attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union claimed the law violated her constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
Ramey expressed her grief in a statement provided to the ACLU, saying, “I’m heartbroken that I won’t be allowed to be with my dad in his dying moments.” “The most significant person in my life is my father. Despite being incarcerated, he has supported me throughout my entire life.
Johnson has maintained parental involvement through frequent visits, phone calls, and emails, Ramey claimed in an affidavit supporting her case, despite the fact that he was charged with McEntee’s murder when his daughter was just 2 years old. Ramey took her infant baby to prison just a month ago so that her father could see his grandson.
When he was 19 years old, Kevin Johnson killed a police officer, William McEntee, and was sentenced to death. His execution is scheduled for November 29th. Missouri is now fighting to prevent Kevin’s 19-year-old daughter from witnessing the execution of her father.
— Sister Helen Prejean (@helenprejean) November 26, 2022
Although a federal judge found the state had a “substantial interest in the sovereignty of its criminal law enforcement,” he dismissed Ramey’s arguments despite acknowledging the possibility that she would experience “emotional pain” in his decision.
On Tuesday, January 11, 2022, Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama delivers the State of the State Address at the State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama. After recently halting lethal injections, the governor of Alabama requests a suspension of executions and a systematic review.
Ramey’s attorney, Corene Kendrick, who also works as the deputy director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project, expressed her team’s “great disappointment” with the ruling upholding the rule, saying it simply serves to gratuitously punish Ramey.
Ad Feedback Attorneys for Johnson, 37, is separately asking the Missouri Supreme Court to hear their request for a stay of execution, arguing that racial discrimination was a factor in his prosecution, conviction, and death sentence.
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The St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s recently appointed special prosecutor, who claimed in their own motion for a stay that “purposeful racial discrimination contaminated” the process in cases where the defendant was Black and the victim was a police officer, backed up that assertion.
Johnson’s attorneys have also requested clemency from Missouri Governor Mike Parsons, but the governor told CNN affiliate KMOV last week that his office intended for the execution to go forward as scheduled.
The governor remarked, “You got a person who walked over there and cold-bloodedly killed a police officer by two rounds in the head after he shot him multiple times.” “This crime is pretty terrible. You occasionally have to face the repercussions of that.
On July 5, 2005, Sgt. William McEntee—pictured here—was fatally shot by Kevin Johnson. His wife, daughter, and two boys have all predeceased him. When Johnson fatally shot McEntee, a police sergeant for the Kirkwood Police, he was 19 years old, the same age his daughter is now, according to her attorneys.
According to court documents, Johnson’s 12-year-old brother passed away earlier on the day of the murder following a seizure at their home. At the time of the seizure, police were attempting to serve Johnson with a warrant for violating his probation.
Johnson said that McEntee and the police were responsible for his brother’s passing. And a few hours later, as McEntee was attending to a report of pyrotechnics in the area, Johnson approached the sergeant’s patrol car, accused him of murdering his brother, and then started shooting.
According to Officer Down Memorial Page, McEntee was 43 years old and had served with the Kirkwood Police Department for 20 years. He left behind a wife, a daughter, and two sons as members of his family. A brand-new and recent loss.
The 27 states that use the death penalty typically let a set number of witnesses, including members of the victim’s family, the inmate’s family, and members of the press, see executions. As the condemned in Missouri, Johnson is permitted to select up to five witnesses, but due to state law, his daughter was not permitted to be one of them due to her age.
Missouri is not the only state that forbids people under a specific age from seeing executions. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Missouri has had one or no executions per year since 2016. Richard Glossip will be executed at Oklahoma State Penitentiary on January 19, 2021.
The appeals court rejects Richard Glossip’s request for a hearing on new evidence while he is on death row.
No one under the age of 18 is permitted to watch executions in California, where the death penalty is officially on hold. Family members of the victim who are under 18 are also prohibited in Tennessee, and witnesses for the victim and the offender must be at least 18 years old in Oklahoma.
However, Ramey’s closeness to her father was highlighted by her “abiding curiosity in witnessing her father’s execution,” according to her complaint. Ramey’s mother passed away two years after her father was accused of killing McEntee, she claimed in her affidavit, leaving Johnson as Ramey’s only remaining parent.
Ramey and her attorneys claimed in their complaint that Johnson and Ramey have since attempted to keep up a father-daughter connection despite his detention on death row. Ramey stated in her affidavit that she spoke to Johnson on the phone at least once a week and visited Johnson “as often as family and friends were able to transport me to see him.” Through the jail communication provider JPay, they communicate by email when she has the money to do so.
Ramey and her attorneys argued that Johnson’s involvement is demonstrated by the fatherly counsel he has provided her over the years and his support of his daughter’s education, which includes setting up an academic liaison to keep him informed of her grades, which he closely monitored until she graduated from high school two years ago. They claimed that he still supports her as she pursues her dream of becoming a nurse.
Her father has been her “greatest source of support, counsel, and love as I navigate transitioning to being a new parent,” Ramey wrote. Ramey gave birth to a son two months ago. She writes that she brought her son to meet her father in October.
She remarked, “My father was able to hold his grandson, and we were able to capture a picture together. Because I knew it might be the last time my father got to hold my son, it was a lovely but sad moment for me. Prior to the federal court’s denial, Kendrick referred to the Missouri law’s restriction on underage spectators of executions as “illogical and irrational,” adding that if the state believes that her father’s actions, while he was 19, were mature enough to justify his execution, then a 19-year-old should be mature enough to witness that execution.
Ramey stated in her declaration that she had already experienced “so much loss in my life,” referring to both the murder of her mother and the imprisonment of her father. It is agonizing to know that I will soon lose my father once more when the State puts him to death, yet I will be too young to see his passing. She called it a “new and fresh loss” and “a terrible injustice” that she would be unable to comfort him and experience any type of mourning or closure for herself because she was just 19 years old.