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BREAKING: Missouri executes convicted Columbia triple killer Ernest Lee Johnson, despite pleas for clemency

Convicted Columbia triple killer Ernest Lee Johnson was executed in Bonne Terre on October 5, 2021 (undated photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Corrections)

A convicted Columbia triple killer has been executed, despite calls for clemency from Pope Francis and two congressional Democrats from Missouri.

Ernest Lee Johnson was executed by lethal injection Tuesday evening at the state’s maximum-security prison in Bonne Terre.

Prosecutors say Johnson used a hammer to kill Mary Bratcher, Mable Scruggs and Fred Jones in February 1994. The store, which was located on Ballenger Lane, has since been torn down.

Pope Francis asked Missouri Governor Mike Parson to block the execution, citing his humanity and the sacredness of all human life. Governor Parson says three juries reviewed Johnson’s case and recommended the death penalty.

Johnson’s attorney, Jeremy Weis, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the execution, saying the 8th Amendment prohibits executing intellectually disabled people. The U-S Supreme Court declined to stay the execution.

Governor Parson rejected a clemency request, saying that Johnson’s claim that he was not competent to be executed was rejected by a jury and the courts six times. The governor also says Johnson “went to great lengths to plan and conceal his crime.”

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