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Old 01-14-2021, 07:52 PM
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Default Will Black Serial Killer Escape the Death Penalty?


Cory Johnson, facing execution Thursday for Richmond murders, is appealing to U.S. Supreme Court

Convicted black multiple murderer Cory Johnson in the news

Cory Johnson: Virginia man to be executed on Jan 14 for 10 murders, lawyers say he has 'intellectual disability'
"He's just a retarded nigger and should be spared because his great-great-great-great-great-grand-negro was probably a slave."

After losing in two federal appeals courts, lawyers for Cory Johnson were asking the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday night to stop his execution by injection at a federal prison in Indiana.

Johnson, 52, was sentenced to death for the murders of seven people in Richmond in 1992 while he was a member of the deadly Newtowne crack cocaine gang. The execution, set for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Federal Correctional Complex, Terre Haute, was delayed by legal proceedings still pending at the high court.

On Tuesday, a federal judge granted a stay of execution until at least until March for Johnson and death row inmate Dustin Higgs, 48, who is set to be executed Friday.

Both men had COVID-19, and the judge cited the possibility that lethal injection could lead to a violation of the Eighth Amendment ban against cruel and unusual punishment due to their damaged lungs.

Experts for the death row inmates said pentobarbital, the drug used in executions, could cause "flash pulmonary edema," a condition similar to waterboarding, while they are still conscious. Government witnesses gave conflicting opinions.

However, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia tossed out the stay late Wednesday, and on Thursday afternoon the full Court of Appeals declined to hold a rehearing.

Also on Thursday, in an 8-7 vote, the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to rehear Johnson's appeal that was rejected by a three-judge panel of that court and was based in part on Johnson's claimed intellectual disability.

In his dissent, Judge James A. Wynn Jr. wrote, "Newly available evidence convincingly demonstrates that his old IQ score is incorrect and that he is intellectually disabled under current diagnostic standards. But no court has ever considered such evidence. If Johnson’s death sentence is carried out today, the United States will execute an intellectually disabled person, which is unconstitutional."

"In sum, Johnson should be afforded an opportunity to have his meritorious claims properly considered and to vindicate his rights. And contrary to the Government, he is not making a 'last-minute' attempt to unduly delay his execution. He has timely pursued his challenges," Wynn wrote.

The 4th Circuit also rejected a stay request on a claim that Johnson's original execution order was void because the judge who modified it in 2005 did not have the authority to do so.

The appeals court losses led Johnson to the U.S. Supreme Court to seek an emergency stay of execution.

Responding to Johnson and Higgs' appeal, the government wrote to the justices: "Applicants were collectively convicted of 10 murders and received 16 death sentences for federal crimes committed decades ago."

"Corey Johnson 'is a brutal serial killer' who murdered at least seven people 'as an enforcer for a large-scale narcotics operation' in 1992. ... Dustin Higgs in 1996 kidnapped three women after a failed triple date, drove them onto federal land, and handed his gun to a co-conspirator who shot them dead - a crime for which Higgs received nine death sentences," the government wrote.

The Department of Justice added, “Numerous family members of Johnson’s victims have traveled to Terre Haute to witness his execution today for the murder of their loved ones nearly three decades ago.”

Johnson's lawyer, Donald Salzman, said earlier Thursday that in addition to COVID-19, his client should not be executed because he has an intellectual disability. He said, "The government should withdraw [Johnson's] execution date, or President Trump should grant him clemency."

If executed, Johnson and Higgs would die less than a week before President Donald Trump leaves office and before President-elect Joe Biden, who opposes capital punishment, takes the oath of office.

Until the Trump administration resumed carrying out death sentences last year, the federal government had not executed anyone since 2003. This year and last, a total of 11 people have been executed including Lisa Montgomery, 52, who died by injection Wednesday. She was the first woman executed by the federal government since 1953.

In vacating the COVID-19 stay issued Tuesday, Judge Gregory G. Katsas of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia wrote, "The record contains only conjecture on whether a lethal injection of pentobarbital would cause any edema before rendering the prisoner insensate."

"Higgs and Johnson each committed multiple murders," Katsas wrote. "They have had ample opportunity to file clemency petitions. And the Supreme Court repeatedly has stressed that the public has a 'powerful and legitimate interest in punishing the guilty' ... which includes 'an important interest in the timely enforcement of a [death] sentence.'"

Judge Cornelia Pillard dissented. "Following a series of 11 executions carried out by the federal government since July 2020 ... Johnson and Higgs are the only federal inmates left on death row who face a scheduled execution."

"The government insists that these final scheduled executions must proceed as planned. It fails to explain why they must take place this week. To be sure, the Supreme Court has emphasized that '[l]ast-minute stays should be the extreme exception, not the norm,' in death penalty cases," she wrote.

"But Johnson’s and Higgs’ claims could not have been brought earlier," Pillard wrote. "As soon as they knew of their COVID-19 diagnoses, they notified the district court; within days, they supplemented their complaints."

Johnson is known by the Bureau of Prisons and in many court documents as “Cory” Johnson, and known to his attorneys and others as “Corey.”

Last edited by Whitebear; 01-14-2021 at 10:29 PM.
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