Grant Clemency Pleads Pope and Others

FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis delivers his homily during the traditional Corpus Christi (Body of Christ) feast Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, June 14, 2020. Tiziana Fabi/Pool via REUTERS

The Missouri Supreme Court in August refused to halt the execution of Ernest Johnson, and on Friday declined to take up the case again.

A letter came in from a representative of Pope Francis stating the pope “wishes to place before you the simple fact of Mr. Johnson’s humanity and the sacredness of all human life.” Ernest Johnson was scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the state prison in Bonne Terre, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of St. Louis.

Ernest Johnson was jailed for the killing of three individuals in a convenience store. He admitted to killing the three at Casey’s General Store in Columbia on February 12, 1994 — manager Mary Bratcher, 46, and employees Mabel Scruggs, 57, and Fred Jones, 58. The victims were shot and attacked with a claw hammer. Bratcher also was stabbed in the hand with a screwdriver.

At Johnson’s girlfriend’s house, officers found a bag containing $443, coin wrappers, partially burned checks and tennis shoes matching bloody shoeprints found inside the store..

The pope is not the only one asking for clemency for Johnson. Others such as Democratic U.S. Reps. Cori Bush of St. Louis and Emmanuel Cleaver of Kansas City are asking for clemency for Johnson.

Johnson’s attorney, Jeremy Weis, has said executing him would violate the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits executing intellectually disabled people. He said multiple IQ tests and other exams have shown that Johnson has the intellectual capacity of a child. He also was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and in 2008, he lost about 20% of his brain tissue to the removal of a benign tumor.

 – Ella Breedlove