OAN’s Shawntel Smith-Hill
2:47 PM – Monday, July 31, 2023
A 45-year-old Missouri inmate, Johnny Johnson, had been granted a stay of execution for the 2002 murder of 6-year-old Cassandra “Casey” Williamson in St. Louis County, however, a new motion by a federal appeals court reversed this decision on Saturday.
The vacated stay comes amid a campaign by Johnson’s attorneys and mental health organizations to get the death penalty overturned because of his mental condition.
In a 7-3 vote, the majority of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals found that Johnson had shown signs of delusion in past medical examinations, but did not lack rational thinking and could understand his punishment.
“For these reasons, I conclude that Johnson has not made a substantial showing of a denial of a constitutional right,” said Eighth Circuit Judge Raymond Gruender. “I therefore concur in our denial of Johnson’s application for a certificate of appealability as well as the denial of the motion for a stay of execution.”
Johnson is scheduled to receive a lethal injection on August 1st, as originally planned by the state. The execution will take place at the state prison in Bonne Terre.
The inmate’s attorneys have expressed concerns that his schizophrenia and mental illness prevents him from truly understanding his crimes and the resulting consequences. Additionally, they cited a myriad of delusions in which Johnson claimed that his death would bring about the “end of the world.”
The claims based on mental health examinations came under heavy scrutiny from the attorney general’s office, which cited that with proper medication, Johnson was able to manage his mental illness, according to medical records.
Ultimately, The Missouri Supreme Court declined to halt the execution in June.
Johnson has confessed to the 2002 murder, in which he lured the young Willamson to an abandoned glass factory and attempted to sexually assault her. She screamed for help and tried her hardest to break free. However, Johnson was still able to murder the young girl. He then attempted to wash off her blood from his clothes and body in a nearby river.
Williamson’s mother has expressed enormous grief and frustrations that she claims have affected her whole family since her daughter’s death.
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