FASD and the Death Penalty

Ernest Johnson was charged with three counts of murder in 1994 and was scheduled to die by lethal injection on Nov 03. The US supreme court halted his execution to allow an appeal on whether he may suffer undue pain from the lethal injection due to a medical condition.  Ernest is a person living with FASD.  The Missouri Chapter of the National Organization of Fetal Alcohol Syndrom had asked Gov. Jay Nixon to remove the death penalty from Earnest Johnson’s case.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/04/us-supreme-court-halts-execution-missouri-ernest-johnson

US supreme court halts execution of Ernest Johnson in Missouri

Ernest Johnson was convicted of killing three people in 1994. His lawyers say he has an intellectual disability and should not be executed.

The US supreme court on Tuesday night halted the execution of a Missouri man who murdered three people in 1994 to allow an appeal on whether he may suffer undue pain from the lethal injection drug due to a medical condition.

Ernest Johnson, 55, was scheduled to die by lethal injection at the state prison in Bonne Terre, Missouri.

He was convicted of bludgeoning to death Mary Bratcher, Mabel Scrubbs and Fred Jones using a hammer, a screw driver and a gun in a convenience store robbery, according to court records.

Defense attorneys have argued in unsuccessful appeals that he has an intellectual disability and is not therefore eligible for execution.

Johnson’s attorneys had appealed to the US supreme court on both the disability issue and on the argument that because Johnson has a slow-growing brain tumour, the pentobarbital used in lethal executions in Missouri could cause him to suffer seizures and pain.

“The application is granted pending the disposition of petitioner’s appeal,” the court said.

Defense attorney Jeremy Weis said that a 2008 surgery to remove Johnson’s slow-growing tumour did not get all of it, and that he has had prior seizures. Weis said that a portion of Johnson’s brain is missing.

Prosecutors have said in court documents that Johnson’s claims are without merit.

On 2 October, Nixon, a Democrat, commuted the sentence of the last man scheduled to die in Missouri, Kimber Edwards, to life in prison.

A total of 25 people have been executed in the United States so far this year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, including six in Missouri.

Disclaimer:  The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.

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