A convicted triple killer from Columbia is set to be executed in October at the state’s maximum-security prison in Bonne Terre. The Missouri Supreme Court has scheduled an October 5 execution date for 60-year-old Ernest Lee Johnson. The Supreme Court scheduled the execution date on Tuesday.
He’ll be executed by lethal injection at the southeast Missouri prison.
Prosecutors say Johnson killed three people with a hammer at a Casey’s convenience store in Columbia, in February 1994. The three victims were Mary Bratcher, Mable Scruggs, and Fred Jones. One of the victims was also shot in the face and stabbed multiple times in the hand, with a screwdriver.
Casey’s has since torn down the store where the murders happened. It was located on Ballenger Lane in north Columbia.
Ernest Lee Johnson was originally scheduled to be executed in 2015, but the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay in the case. Johnson’s lawyers argued then, and now, that he has scar tissue that remains after a 2008 surgery to remove a brain tumor.
Johnson’s lawyers say lethal injection would pose a risk of violent seizures in Johnson.
The “Columbia Daily Tribune” reports that Johnson wanted his execution to be carried out by a firing squad, but that the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider his appeal last month. Missouri state law does not allow executions by firing squad.
The newspaper reports Johnson still has part of a benign tumor in his brain.
Johnson’s lawyers are expected to file additional appeals. Johnson will be executed in October, barring intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court or a federal judge. Johnson’s attorneys could also request clemency from Governor Mike Parson.