Death row inmate executed for the murder of his wife

Don Johnson put to death for wife's murder

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A Tennessee death row inmate died by lethal injection Thursday for a Memphis murder nearly 35 years ago.

Don Johnson killed his wife Connie in 1984, and ahead of his execution he asked his family for forgiveness.

Don Johnson to be executed tonight

Johnson, who became a devout Christian while in prison, chose not to have a final meal--instead asking it be given to the homeless.

He also wrote a letter to his family and his victim's family. He called himself a monster before accepting the Christian faith. He also asked for forgiveness in the letter.

The Supreme Court refused to hear Johnson’s case ahead of the execution, so Johnson asked Governor Bill Lee to step in. Lee chose not to.

Connie Johnson’s daughter has fought for her stepdad not to be executed, and several members of different faith communities have rallied for Johnson’s life to be spared.

Protests were planned across the state, including at the Memphis Theological Seminary.

Johnson was put to death around 7:37 p.m. Thursday tonight in Nashville.

Johnson's execution by lethal injection lasted more than 15 minutes.

He sang spirituals and prayed, asking for forgiveness.

There were visible signs of what was happening with the inmate Don Johnson.

Media witnesses described what they saw.

"At 7:17 we heard a sound check and the blinds opened. From 7:18 to 7:19 we heard a statement. I will say it was a prayer and he included a lot of lines that were heartening to Jesus's prayer on the cross,” said Katherine Burgess, Commercial Appeal.

"He asked if he could sing. He sang two hymns. The first was They will know we are Christians by our love. And then a second hymn soon and very soon we are going to see the King,” said Travis Lawler, Associated Press.

“There was gasping as Jenny just said and possible snoring but it went on for quite a while. I’m told that was when his lungs were being stopped by the drugs," said Janice Broach, WMC.

"I think the midazolam worked as the midazolam is supposed to work which is that it doesn't work. It doesn't prevent Mr. Johnson from feeling pain and the bromide and strapping down of Mr. Johnson and the strapping of Mr. Johnson and the blocking of our view did exactly what it is designed to do which was designed to prevent us from seeing any movement,” said Kelley Henry, Johnson’s attorney.

There was no one at the execution on behalf of Don Johnson other than his attorney and no one for his wife, Connie, whom he murdered.

Johnson’s attorney said there are two pending lethal injection legal cases and she believes they will be very interested in what happened with Don Johnson’s execution.

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