Missouri and Florida have each scheduled executions this week


(This post was updated to reflect that Johnny Johnson was killed by the State of Missouri on Tuesday night.)

The State of Missouri killed Johnny Johnson Tuesday night. The execution was the state’s fourth this year. He was killed by lethal injection for the 2002 kidnapping, attempted rape, and killing of six-year-old Casey Williamson in St. Louis.

Johnson’s lawyers had argued that he was ineligible to be executed because of his mental illness. Still, while the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged his mental challenges, the judges decided by a 7-3 vote last Saturday that he was able to comprehend why he was being executed, the Kansas City Star reported. The U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay, with Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson dissenting.

The 45-year-old Johnson was physically and sexually abused as a child and was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 16, according to the Star.

Florida plans to kill 61-year-old James Barnes for the 1988 rape and murder of Patricia “Patsy” Miller in Melbourne. If it proceeds, it will be the state’s fifth state killing this year.

Barnes had a horrific childhood rife with abuse and trauma. He and his four brothers and sisters were all victims, and each succumbed to addiction, suicide, mental illness, and criminal behavior.

He was serving a life sentence when he confessed to the murder of Patsy Miller. By doing this, he hoped he would provide closure to Patsy’s family and provide them with answers to the questions surrounding her unsolved murder. Barnes waived his right to a lawyer and represented himself. He pled guilty and waived a jury and mitigating evidence, ensuring he would be sentenced to death. 

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