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Missouri Executes Killer of Police Officer After Appeals Fail

Kevin Johnson, a Missouri man convicted of ambushing and killing a St. Louis area police officer he blamed in the death of his younger brother, was executed Tuesday night. Johnson, 37, died after an injection of pentobarbital at the state prison in Bonne Terre. It was the state’s second execution this year and the 17th nationally. Two more executions are scheduled in Missouri for the first few weeks of 2023, the Associated Press reports. Johnson’s attorneys didn’t deny that he killed officer William McEntee in 2005, but contended he was sentenced to death in part because he is Black. Courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and Gov. Mike Parson declined to stop the execution.

In a first for modern executions in Missouri, Johnson's spiritual advisor, the Rev. Darryl Gray, sat at his side. The men spoke softly until the drug was administered. Gray read from the Bible as Johnson shut his eyes. Gray, a leading St. Louis racial injustice activist, continued reading from the Bible or praying while patting Johnson’s shoulder. “We read scripture and had a word of prayer,” Gray said. “He apologized again. He apologized to the victim’s family. He apologized to his family. He said he was looking forward to seeing his baby brother. And he said he was ready.” McEntee, 43, was a 20-year police veteran in Kirkwood, a St. Louis suburb. A husband and father of three, he was among the officers sent to Johnson’s home on July 5, 2005, to serve a warrant for his arrest. Johnson was on probation for assaulting his girlfriend, and police believed he had violated probation.


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