BONNE TERRE, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Corrections successfully carried out its execution of Kevin Johnson early Tuesday evening.
The execution was carried out at 7:40 p.m. at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Missouri. Johnson, 37, died via lethal injection. He made no final statement prior to execution.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-minute appeal for a stay of execution around 6:30 p.m. In the order, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson said they would have granted the stay.
Johnson was sentenced to death on Feb. 1, 2008, for the murder of Kirkwood Police Sergeant William McEntee.
In emails sent to The Kansas City Star in the days leading up to his execution, Johnson said he was “unconditionally sorry” for his crimes.
Johnson, then 19, killed McEntee during a fit of rage on July 5, 2005, over his younger brother’s death, which he blamed on police.
According to court documents, McEntee was one of the police officers sent to Johnson’s house to serve a warrant for his arrest. Johnson was on probation for assaulting his girlfriend, and police believed he violated probation. After waking his 12-year-old brother, Joseph “Bam Bam” Long, the boy ran to his grandmother’s house next door, where he began having a seizure and collapsed.
During the subsequent trials, Johnson testified that McEntee kept his mother from entering the house to help his brother. Bam Bam died later at the hospital.
Later that night, McEntee returned to Kirkwood’s Meacham Park neighborhood to check on a report of fireworks. Johnson approached McEntee while he was seated in his police vehicle and shot him multiple times. He returned a short time later and shot Sgt. McEntee twice more after McEntee had pulled himself from the car and was on his hands and knees.
McEntee, 46, was a 19-year veteran of the police force. He left behind a wife and three children.
During Johnson’s first trial in 2007, the jury deadlocked but agreed to convict him of the lesser offense of second-degree murder. Months later, a new jury found him guilty of first-degree murder.
When Johnson was sentenced in February 2008, McEntee’s widow told the court justice could only be served if Johnson paid with his own life.
In a recent appeal, Special Prosecutor E.E. Keenan claimed there was racial bias in the prosecution of the case.
Keenan claimed that former St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch and his office handled five different cases involving the deaths of police officers. Of those cases, four of the defendants were black, all of whom McCulloch sought the death penalty for. In the one case involving a white defendant, the death penalty was not sought. Keenan also accused McCulloch of making certain there were no Black jurors for Johnson’s second trial.
Neither Keenan nor Johnson’s attorneys disputed that Johnson killed Sgt. McEntee. They had hoped his sentence would be commuted to life imprisonment.