Governor Bill Lee will not grant clemency to Donnie Johnson

Donnie Johnson moved to death watch as he awaits execution

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Mid-South man convicted of killing his wife more than three decades ago is on death watch as he awaits his execution.

Donnie Johnson, 68, is scheduled to die by lethal injection Thursday. He was moved to death watch early Tuesday just after midnight.

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

Death watch is a three-day period before an execution. The inmate is placed in a cell adjacent to the execution chamber and under 24-hour observation by a team of correctional officers.

Only those on the inmate’s official visitation list are allowed to visit during the death watch period, and all visits are non-contact until the day before the execution. At that time, the warden can decide if the inmate can have a contact visit.

According to the Tennessee Department of correction, strict guidelines are implemented during the death watch period to maintain safety, security and control of the inmate and prison.

Johnson was convicted of killing his wife in 1984. Prosecutors say he suffocated Connie Johnson and left her body in a van at the Mall of Memphis just a few weeks before Christmas.

Convicted killer to be executed next week

His wife’s family, including her daughter, Cynthia Vaughn, joined Johnson in asking Gov. Bill Lee for clemency.

Governor Bill Lee said Tuesday he will not grant the request.

“After a prayerful and deliberate consideration of Don Johnson‘s request for clemency, and after a thorough review of the case, I am upholding the sentence of the State of Tennessee and will not be intervening," he said.

Johnson will die by lethal injection on Thursday.

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