In Kansas City, a federal judge has denied a request from a 19-year-old woman to allow her to watch her father’s death by lethal injection.
According to the Associated Press, Kevin Johnson is scheduled to be executed Tuesday (November 29) for the 2005 killing of Kirkwood, Missouri Police Officer William McEntee. Johnson’s lawyers have appeals pending that are attempting to save his life.
His daughter, Khorry Ramey, sought to attend the execution with the American Civil Liberties Union filing an emergency motion with a federal court in Kansas City.
Under Missouri law, no one younger than the age of 21 may attend a state-sanctioned execution. The ACLU’s court filing, however, notes that the age requirement served no safety purpose and violates Ramey’s constitutional rights.
In a late Friday ruling, U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes ruled that Ramey’s constitutional rights would not be violated by the law.
“I’m heartbroken that I won’t be able to be with my dad in his last moments,” Ramey said in a statement. “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.”
Ramey said she was praying that Gov. Michael Parson would grant her father clemency. Johnson’s lawyers haven’t challenged his guilt but claim racism played a role in the decision to seek the death penalty in their appeals. Johnson is Black and McEntee was white.
Johnson’s lawyers argued for the courts to intervene for other reasons, including a history of mental illness and his age – he was 19 at the time of the crime. Since the Supreme Court banned the execution of offenders who were younger than 18 at the time of their crime in 2005, courts have increasingly moved away from sentencing teen offenders to death.