JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Kevin Johnson, who was found guilty of killing a Kirkwood police officer in 2005, will still be put to death by the state of Missouri, Governor Mike Parson’s office confirmed.
Johnson is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Tuesday. The Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments over stopping the case Monday, while dozens gathered outside the courthouse in opposition to the planned execution.
“Mr. Johnson has received every protection afforded by the Missouri and United States Constitutions, and Mr. Johnson’s conviction and sentence remain for his horrendous and callous crime. The State of Missouri will carry out Mr. Johnson’s sentence according to the Court’s order and deliver justice,” Parson said. “Clemency will not be granted.”
According to court documents, Johnson killed William McEntee during a fit of rage over Johnson’s brother’s death, which was blamed on police.
“The violent murder of any citizen, let alone a Missouri law enforcement officer, should be met only with the fullest punishment state law allows. Through Mr. Johnson’s own heinous actions, he stole the life of Sergeant [Bill] McEntee and left a family grieving, a wife widowed, and children fatherless.”
Johnson’s attorneys claimed racism played a role in seeking the death penalty, and that it should also be reconsidered because he was a teenager at the time. Johnson’s daughter and several anti-death penalty activists are also calling for Johnson’s death sentence to be overturned. They are planning a rally outside the Missouri Supreme Court Monday morning.
Johnson’s teenage daughter, Khorry Ramey, recently lost her efforts to witness her father’s death. She challenged a Missouri state law that bars anyone under 21 from witnessing an execution.
Former St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch, who prosecuted the case at the time, explained that the death penalty was appropriate in Johnson’s case because he ambushed and purposefully attacked McEntee.
McCulloch shared that Johnson shot the officer five times in the patrol car, which crashed, and then shot the officer two more times when he was pulled out of the car on his hands and knees.
“He’s been my only living parent for the majority of my life,” said Ramey. “My mom passed when I was four, so all I know is my dad.”
McEntee was a 19-year veteran of the force and left behind a wife and three children. His wife told the judge in 2008 when Johnson was sentenced – justice could only be served if Johnson paid with his own life.