Execution date set for Missouri man who shot police officer
The Missouri Supreme Court has set a Nov. 29 execution date for a man who shot and killed a suburban St. Louis police sergeant in 2005.
The court announced Wednesday that Kevin Johnson, 36, is scheduled to die by lethal injection for the death of 43-year-old Kirkwood Police Sgt. Bill McEntee.
The execution date comes despite opposition from the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which wants a special prosecutor to investigate whether Johnson’s conviction and death sentence resulted from racial bias.
Johnson, who was 19 when he shot McEntee, was convicted of first-degree murder after his second trial in 2008. His first trial ended in a hung jury.
On July 5, 2005, police were looking for Johnson on an alleged probation violation when his 12-year-old brother suffered a seizure at their home. Several officers, including McEntee, responded to the medical emergency. Johnson’s brother later died at a hospital from a heart condition.
When McEntee, a 20-year veteran, returned to the neighborhood later that day to investigate a report about fireworks, Johnson shot him several times in front of witnesses, according to court records.
Then-St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch argued that Johnson believed officers had not done enough to help his brother earlier in the day and shot McEntee, the father of three, in revenge.
Johnson testified at both trials that he was in a trance-like state caused by his brother’s death when he shot McEntee.
Johnson’s attorneys appealed his conviction on several issues, including whether he lacked the deliberation necessary for a first-degree murder conviction.
The U.S. Supreme Court in March declined to hear the case, leading to the setting of the execution date.
Johnson’s attorney, Shawn Nolan, said in a statement that Johnson’s execution was the result of racial bias in McCulloch’s administration. He said Johnson, who is Black, is remorseful and has been a model prisoner who does not deserve the death penalty.
Because the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s office agrees that Johnson’s conviction and death sentence should be investigated, “the court should not have scheduled his execution,” Nolan said. “We plan to pursue all available avenues for judicial relief and executive clemency on Kevin’s behalf.”
Johnson’s execution would be the second this year in Missouri. Carman Deck, 56, of the St. Louis area, was put to death in May for the killings of James and Zelma Long in in their home near De Soto in 1996.
This story has been corrected to show Johnson’s attorney is male.