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Ernest Lee Johnson
Ernest Lee Johnson

Death penalty opponents request clemency for convicted Columbia triple murderer

Supporters of a convicted Columbia triple killer who’s set to be executed on Tuesday in Boone Terre are urging Missouri’s governor to grant clemency in the case.

61-year-old Ernest Lee Johnson was convicted of killing three people with a hammer at a now-closed Casey’s convenience store, on Ballenger Lane. The murders happened in February 1994.

Johnson’s supporters are citing what they call Johnson’s intellectual disability, and delivered more than 20,000 signatures to the governor’s office on Wednesday.

Barring intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court, a federal judge or Governor Mike Parson, Johnson will be executed by lethal injection on Tuesday at the maximum-security prison in southeast Missouri’s Bonne Terre.

Boone County prosecutors say Ernest Lee Johnson killed Mary Bratcher, Mable Scruggs and Fred Jones in 1994 at the Casey’s, which was near Clark Lane.

About a dozen supporters of Johnson protested Wednesday outside the Boone County Courthouse on Wednesday, calling on Governor Parson to block the execution.

The “Columbia Missourian” reports a bell rang out at the start of a moment of silence for the three victims. Demonstrators say Johnson should not be released from prison, but that he should be sentenced to life in prison.

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