Death row inmate to die by lethal injection Thursday unless Gov. Lee intervenes

Death row inmate to die by lethal injection unless Gov. Lee intervenes

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider a challenge from Tennessee death row inmates who say lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment.

It means that Don Johnson will die by lethal injection if Governor Bill Lee does not commute his sentence.

Johnson said he will not file any more legal challenges on Monday. Instead he is hoping for mercy from the Governor.

Attorney Robert Hutton has extensive experience with death penalty cases.

“The Governor always has power to commute any particular sentence has very broad clemency powers,” Hutton said.

Johnson, 68, is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Thursday for the 1984 death of his wife Connie.

She was suffocated and her body was found in a van at the Mall of Memphis side a few weeks before Christmas.

Hutton says the governor has several factors to consider. One being that the jury at the time of Johnson’s sentencing did not have the option of life without parole because it was not a choice in the early 1980′s.

“You find many people end up voting for death, not because they think the person deserves to die, but because they are afraid they’ll be released prison. We know in modern sentencing when juries have the option of life without parole the number of capital convictions goes way down,” he said.

Hutton also says that Governor Lee can consider that Connie Johnson’s daughter does not want her stepfather executed, and Johnson has been a model prisoner becoming a Christian and helping other prisoners convert to Christianity.

Johnson has asked Governor Bill Lee for mercy commuting his sentence to life without parole.

Hutton says in the past governors have said several days before a scheduled execution what their decision is.

“It is hopeful Governor Lee has not said no as of this point,” he said.

At this point Governor Bill Lee is still considering Don Johnson’s application for clemency

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