Published on: Tuesday, October 5, 2021

A Missouri man convicted of beating three people to death during a 1994 convenience store robbery was executed on Tuesday night despite calls for clemency from Pope Francis and other supporters who said the man’s intellectual disabilities made the execution unconstitutional (article available here).

Ernest Lee Johnson, 61, who was on death row at a state prison in Bonne Terre, Mo., was executed by lethal injection at 6:11 p.m. local time on Tuesday, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections.

In addition to the pope, those who called for clemency included two members of Congress, Representatives Cori Bush and Emanuel Cleaver II, both of Missouri. They asked the governor of Missouri to stop the execution, saying Mr. Johnson should have been spared because he was intellectually disabled.

The pope’s appeal was made in a letter said his appeal was not “based solely upon Mr. Johnson’s doubtful intellectual capacity.” “His Holiness wishes to place before you the simple fact of Mr. Johnson’s humanity and the sacredness of all human life,” Archbishop Pierre wrote.