Execution of Ernest Lee Johnson Halted by U.S. Supreme Court

On Tuesday evening the U.S. Supreme Court halted the execution of Ernest Lee Johnson based on a claim that he may suffer undue pain from the lethal injection because of a medical condition.  Johnson was set to be executed on November 3 for a triple murder in a Columbia convenient store in 1994.

Johnson’s attorneys had appealed to the high court because Johnson has a slow-growing brain tumor and the pentobarbital used in lethal injections in Missouri could cause him to suffer seizures and pain.  The petition noted a 2008 surgery to remove part of the tumor had resulted in the loss of part of the inmate’s brain and recurring seizures.  The lawyers also argued that Johnson has an intellectual disability which, according to Missouri law, would ban him from execution.

The high court sent Johnson’s appeal back to a lower court for further review.  No new execution date has been set.

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