The 2nd Execution of 2021
Corey Johnson was executed by lethal injection at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, and was pronounced dead at 11:34 p.m. ET on January 15, 2021, reported CNN.
Johnson was sentenced to die after he was convicted
of killing seven people in 1992 as a part of the drug trade in Virginia. The
weeks preceding his execution were defined by a tense legal battle after he
contracted Covid-19 while on death row.
In his final statement, Johnson apologized for his
crimes and told the families of the victims that he hoped they would find
peace. He also thanked the staff at the prison, the prison's chaplain, his
minister and his legal team.
"I would have said I was sorry before, but I
didn't know how. I hope you will find peace," he said, according to a
statement released by his lawyers. "To my family, I have always loved you,
and your love has made me real. On the streets, I was looking for shortcuts, I
had some good role models, I was side tracking, I was blind and stupid. I am
not the same man that I was."
The Supreme Court denied a last-ditch effort late
Thursday by Johnson's legal team that leaned on claims of an intellectual
disability and his Covid-19 diagnosis, arguing that his infection paired with a
lethal injection would amount to a cruel and unusual punishment.
That appeal came after an appellate court on
Wednesday tossed out a lower court's decision to stay the executions of Johnson
and another death row inmate who contracted the virus, Dustin Higgs, whose
execution is scheduled to take place Friday.
"The government must stop trying to execute
Corey Johnson while he is still recovering from the COVID-19 infection he
contracted as a result of the government's own irresponsibility in carrying out
executions during the pandemic," Donald Salzman, an attorney for Johnson,
had said in a statement earlier Thursday.
"There is no principled reason not to wait
until the injunction expires in March to assess whether Mr. Johnson's lungs
have healed sufficiently that he will not suffer excruciating pain during an
After Johnson's death, his legal team mourned his
passing in a statement, saying that he should never have been executed.
"We loved Corey Johnson, and we knew him as a
gentle soul who never broke a rule in prison and kept trying, despite his
limitations, to pass the GED. His family and loved ones are in our
hearts," his attorneys said. "We wish also to say that the fact Corey
Johnson should never have been executed cannot diminish the pain and loss
experienced by the families of the victims in this case. We wish them peace and
Johnson's legal team has also said that he has an IQ
of 69, which would be lower than one standard offered by the Supreme Court as a
guide for states weighing whether such an execution met the Constitution's
cruel and unusual punishment standards.
"He is a person with intellectual disability
who cannot constitutionally be executed," Salzman argued Thursday morning.
"The government should withdraw Corey's execution date, or President Trump
should grant him clemency."
According to the US Justice Department, Johnson and
several co-conspirators were partners between 1989 and 1992 in a "large
drug-trafficking conspiracy" based in Richmond, Virginia.
As part of their operation, the department said,
Johnson murdered seven people over "perceived slights or rivalry in the
drug trade" -- Peyton Johnson, Louis Johnson, Bobby Long, Dorothy
Armstrong, Anthony Carter, Linwood Chiles and Curtis Thorne. Johnson said each
name in his final statement, saying, "I want these names to be
Johnson was found guilty of seven counts of capital
murder in 1993, with the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
jury unanimously recommending seven death sentences.
Thursday's execution, six days before
President-elect Joe Biden takes office, coincides with a new push from more
than three dozen members of Congress for Biden's incoming administration to prioritize
abolishing the death penalty in all jurisdictions.
While Biden has pledged to abolish the federal death
penalty and to give incentives to states to stop seeking death sentences as a
part of his criminal justice plan, 40 members of Congress want to make sure the
practice ends on his first day in office.
As part of his final words, Johnson made mention of
his last meal.
"The pizza and strawberry shake were wonderful,
but I didn't get the jelly-filled donuts that I ordered," he said.
"What's with that? This should be fixed."
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