A 19-year-old Missouri woman will not be allowed to witness her father’s execution after a judge’s ruling on Friday.
Kevin Johnson faces execution on Nov. 29 for the 2005 killing of Kirkwood, Missouri police officer William McEntee. Johnson requested that his daughter, Khorry Ramey, attend the execution.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed an emergency motion in a Kansas City federal court saying that a state law barring anyone under 21 in Missouri from witnessing an execution serves no safety purpose and violates Ramey’s constitutional rights.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes ruled that the state law is constitutional, saying, “it is in the public’s interest to allow states to enforce their laws and administer state prisons without court intervention.”
Johnson, 37, has been incarcerated since Ramey was 2. The two built a bond through phone calls, visits, letters and emails. Ramey brought her newborn son to prison to meet his grandfather last month.
“I have a son that needs his papa and I’m a daughter who needs her dad,” Ramey said, according to CBS affiliate KMOV.
McEntee, a husband and father of three,Johnson was on probation for assaulting his girlfriend, and police believed he had violated probation.
Johnson saw officers arrive and awoke his 12-year-old brother, Joseph “Bam Bam” Long, who ran next door to their grandmother’s house. Once there, the boy, who suffered from a congenital heart defect, collapsed and began having a seizure.
Johnson testified at trial that McEntee kept his mother from entering the house to aid his brother, who died a short time later at a hospital.
Later that evening, McEntee returned to the neighborhood to check on unrelated reports of fireworks being shot off. That’s when he encountered Johnson.
Johnson pulled a gun and shot the officer. He then approached the wounded, kneeling officer and shot him again, killing him.
Johnson’s lawyers have filed appeals seeking to halt the execution. They don’t challenge his guilt but claim racism played a role in the decision to seek the death penalty, and in the jury’s decision to sentence him to die. Johnson is Black and McEntee was white.
The execution would be the first of three in the coming months in Missouri. The state plans to execute convicted killers Scott McLaughlin on Jan. 3 and Leonard Taylor on Feb. 7.
Missouri currently has 20 inmates on death row.