Missouri Executes Triple Murderer
Despite appeals from the Pope and racial activists including Congressman Cori Bush, triple murderer Earnest Johnson was executed by lethal injection Tuesday evening. Jim Salter of the Associated Press reports that Johnson was sentenced to death for the February 1994 murders of three at Casey’s General Store in Columbia. Johnson, who intended to rob the store for money to buy drugs, waited until closing time before pulling a gun on the manager, 46-year-old Mary Bratcher, and demanding that she open the safe. After Bratcher tried to flush the safe key down a toilet, Johnson shot her and employees Mable Scruggs, 57 and Fred Jones, 58. When all three survived the gunshots, Johnson attacked them with a claw hammer and a screwdriver. A mountain of evidence left the jury with no question regarding Johnson’s guilt.
Over years of appeals, Johnson’s attorneys claimed he suffered from intellectual disabilities, fetal alcohol syndrome and a low IQ. In a last minute appeal they claimed that the execution drug, pentobarbital, might cause seizures to Johnson’s damaged brain.
As it turned out, he died peacefully nine minutes after receiving a lethal injection of the pain killer.
A story by Lauren Fruen of the Sun noted that Johnson beat Mary Bratcher, the mother of three young children, so may times with the claw hammer that part of her brain was missing. He also stabbed Bratcher ten times with a screwdriver.