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Federal appeals court halts Missouri execution, leading state to appeal

A federal appeals court panel has halted next month’s planned execution of a 45-year-old Missouri man convicted of killing a 6-year-old girl, though the state is appealing.

The three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday voted 2-1 to stop the execution of Johnny Johnson, who is scheduled to be put to death next Tuesday for the 2002 killing Casey Williamson.

The Missouri Attorney General’s Office has asked the full 8th Circuit court to reconsider the case, which will likely end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Attorneys for Johnson say he isn’t mentally competent to be executed because his schizophrenia prevents him from understanding the link between his crime and the punishment.

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