The Latest: Seventh-day Adventist Church seeks clemency
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Latest on the upcoming execution of Tennessee inmate Don Johnson (all times local):
The worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church is asking for mercy for a Tennessee inmate scheduled to be executed Thursday.
Don Johnson’s petition for clemency has centered on his religious conversion and Christian ministry to other prisoners. That journey included his ordination as an elder in a Nashville Seventh-day Adventist church while on death row.
In a letter hand-delivered to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Monday, Seventh-day Adventist Church President Ted N.C. Wilson asks Lee to consider sparing Johnson’s life so he may continue his “important spiritual ministry.”
The letter is one in a series of appeals from religious leaders that includes the president of the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Episcopal bishops of middle and east Tennessee.
Johnson is sentenced to die for the 1984 murder of his wife, Connie Johnson.
The U.S. Supreme Court won’t consider an appeal that could have delayed an upcoming Tennessee execution.
The appeal involves Tennessee’s midazolam-based lethal injection combination. Inmates claim in a lawsuit that the method causes excruciating pain.
The appeal doesn’t challenge lethal injection directly. Instead it challenges Tennessee secrecy laws surrounding the procurement of execution drugs. Inmates argue the laws prevented them from proving a more humane drug is available.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor agrees. In her dissent on Monday, she says the requirement that prisoners challenging one method of execution prove there is a better method available is “fundamentally wrong.” She adds that state secrecy laws compound the injustice.
Don Johnson is scheduled to be executed Thursday for the 1984 murder of his wife, Connie Johnson.
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