Daughter Not Permitted to Witness Dad's Execution

Kevin Johnson is scheduled to be executed Nov. 29; his daughter is 19
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 22, 2022 4:10 PM CST
Updated Nov 26, 2022 5:20 AM CST
19-Year-Old Asks Federal Court to Let Her Witness Father's Execution
This undated photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows Kevin Johnson.   (Missouri Department of Corrections via AP, File)
UPDATE Nov 26, 2022 5:20 AM CST

Khorry Ramey will not be able to watch her father die, a judge ruled on Friday. The 19-year-old Missouri woman's father, Kevin Johnson, is scheduled to be put to death Tuesday for the 2005 killing of a police officer, and a judge found the state law preventing her from witnessing the death because Ramey is under 21 is constitutional. It is "in the public's interest to allow states to enforce their laws and administer state prisons without court intervention," wrote District Judge Brian Wimes. NBC News quotes Johnson's lawyer as flagging what he says is an irony: "that Kevin was 19 years old when he committed this crime and they still want to move forward with this execution, but they won't allow his daughter who's 19 at this time in because she's too young."

Nov 22, 2022 4:10 PM CST

Kevin Johnson is scheduled to be executed in Missouri on Nov. 29, and he wants his 19-year-old daughter to witness it. She wants to be there, too, according to Fox News, but Missouri law forbids anyone under 21 from witnessing an execution. On Monday, the ACLU filed an emergency motion asking a federal court in Kansas City to grant an exception to the daughter, Khorry Ramey, arguing that the law "serves no safety purpose" and violates her constitutional rights. Johnson, 37, was sentenced to death for the 2005 murder of a police officer. He has been imprisoned since his daughter was 2 years old, but the two have reportedly developed a close bond.

"If my father were dying in the hospital, I would sit by his bed holding his hand and praying for him until his death, both as a source of support for him and … as a necessary part of my grieving process," Ramey said, according to court filings. Johnson’s lawyers, meanwhile, have asked the US Supreme Court to grant a stay of execution, not because he’s innocent but for other reasons, beginning with the fact that he was just 19 at the time. Johnson also has a history of mental illness, per CBS News, and according to the AP, his lawyers have argued there was racial bias in determining his sentence. Johnson is Black, and the officer he shot, William McEntee, was white.

In July 2005, McEntee and other officers served a warrant at Johnson’s home for a probation violation, during which time Johnson's 12-year-old brother—who had a congenital heart defect—collapsed and suffered a seizure. At trial, Johnson testified that McEntee prevented his mother from rendering aid to his brother, who later died in the hospital. McEntee later returned to the neighborhood on an unrelated call, and Johnson ambushed him in his car. McEntee tried to drive away but crashed, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He managed to get out of his car, but he fell to his knees, wounded. With witnesses watching, Johnson approached from behind and executed McEntee with a shot to the back of the head. (Read more Missouri stories.)

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