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Missouri execution date set for Ernest Johnson

June 29, 2021 GMT

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday set an October execution date for Ernest Lee Johnson, who was convicted of killing three people at a central Missouri convenience store 27 years ago.

The order set the execution for 6 p.m. Oct. 5 at the state prison in Bonne Terre. It would be the state’s first execution since convicted killer Walter Barton was put to death in May 2020.

Johnson, 60, had asked that his execution be carried out by firing squad, but the U.S. Supreme Court last month refused to consider his appeal. The court left in place a lower court ruling that could allow him to be executed by injection. Missouri law does not authorize execution by firing squad.

Johnson has argued that Missouri’s lethal injection drug, pentobarbital, could trigger seizures because of a brain condition. Johnson still has part of a benign tumor in his brain.

Johnson was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder in the 1994 deaths of Mary Bratcher, Mable Scruggs, and Fred Jones, employees of a Casey’s convenience store in Columbia.