JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – One week from Tuesday, a St. Louis man will be executed for the 2005 murder of a police officer, but the day before he is set to die by lethal injection, the state’s highest court will hear arguments on why they should halt the execution.
Less than 36 hours before Kevin Johnson’s execution on Tuesday, the Missouri Supreme Court will decide whether he should be spared and the case remanded to the circuit court. Johnson’s attorney, Shawn Nolan, said a special prosecutor assigned to the case last month found new evidence.
“The easiest way for them to do it is just say, ‘Let’s put a hold on this. Let’s just stay the execution while we consider all these things,’” Nolan said.
For more than a decade, Johnson has sat on death row after being convicted in 2007 for the killing of 46-year-old Kirkwood Police Sgt. William McEntee. Johnson was 19 at the time of the murder.
“These claims that have been raised have never really been heard by any court, even though we’ve raised them repeatedly,” Nolan said. “We’re really hopeful that the Missouri Supreme Court is really going to take a closer look at this.”
Nolan is a federal public defender who has represented Johnson for a handful of years. He claims racism played a role in the decision to seek the death penalty.