A man convicted of abducting and fatally beating a 6-year-old girl in Missouri two decades ago was executed on Tuesday evening. The execution took place after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request to stop the proceedings, despite arguments that the man was mentally incompetent. Johnny Johnson, 45, was administered a lethal injection at a state prison in Bonne Terre and was pronounced dead at 6:33 p.m. CDT. He had been found guilty of the July 2002 killing of Casey Williamson in the St. Louis suburb of Valley Park.
Johnny Johnson, who suffered from schizophrenia, expressed remorse in a brief handwritten statement released by the Department of Corrections prior to his execution. As the lethal injection was administered, Johnson lay on his back with a sheet covering him, turning his head to the left to listen to his spiritual adviser. He then faced forward, eyes closed, showing no further physical reaction. Several members of the victim’s family, as well as the former prosecutor and police investigator involved in the case, were present to witness the execution.
The U.S. Supreme Court, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor and two other justices dissenting, rejected a last-minute request to stay the execution. Johnson’s attorneys had argued that he suffered from delusions about the devil using his death to bring about the end of the world. In their dissenting statement, Sotomayor and the other justices expressed concern about executing someone with documented mental illness without a thorough investigation into their competency.
Casey Williamson went missing from her hometown of Valley Park on July 26, 2002, triggering a frantic search. Her body was eventually discovered. Johnson had a connection to the victim’s family, as Casey’s mother had been childhood friends with Johnson’s older sister and had even helped babysit him. Johnson had attended a barbecue at the family’s home the night before the murder, and they had allowed him to sleep on their couch.
Former St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch dismissed Johnson’s delusions as “nonsense” and emphasized the horrific nature of the crime committed against Casey. McCulloch acknowledged that Johnson had significant issues but maintained that he was fully aware of his actions. The execution of Johnson brings closure to a tragic case that had haunted the victim’s family and the community for nearly two decades.