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Kevin Johnson’s legal team files Clemency Application

Last week attorneys for Kevin Johnson submitted an Application for Executive Clemency for Kevin “KJ” Johnson. Kevin is scheduled to be executed by the state of Missouri on November 29th for a crime committed at just 19 years old, just hours after watching his baby brother die in front of his eyes.

Despite being a beloved member of his community, and experiencing a childhood riddled with trauma and abuse so severe it resulted in psychosis, evidence of racist prosecutorial conduct, and ineffective counsel throughout the trial, KJ is set to be executed.

KJ’s childhood was filled with physical and mental abuse, devastating hunger, poverty, and isolation. KJ remembers being so hungry as a child that he would try to eat roaches and mice to quell the pain. After his mother fell victim to crack cocaine, he was sent to live with his aunt who severely physically abused him. His teachers describe him showing up to school reeking of urine, but no one ever intervened to get him the help he needed.

On the evening of July 5, 2005, police officer William McEntee and others entered a family residence across from KJ’s home to serve a warrant. During the search, KJ’s 12-year-old brother, Joseph “Bam Bam” Long, suffered a seizure and collapsed in the home they were searching. KJ watched the officers ignore his brother’s obvious medical distress, stepping over his limp body several times but never getting him help. Officers even prevented his mother from entering the house to help. Two hours after Bam Bam died, officer McEntee came back to KJ’s neighborhood responding to a report of fireworks. A chance encounter with KJ ensued. Emotionally distraught and overwhelmed, KJ said, “you killed my brother,” before shooting officer McEntee multiple times.

According to retired Kirkwood Juvenile Police officer Geoff Morrison and friend of Sergeant McEntee, “I did not know Kevin to be an angry or impulsive person… I've never had any dealings with Kevin as a violent person nor did I know of any kind of history with violence or reported violence.”

At KJ’s first trial, the jury rejected the first-degree murder charge, resulting in a hung jury. In the second trial, the prosecutor eliminated potential Black jurors, ensuring a predominately white jury. KJ’s court-appointed lawyers failed to present abundant mitigating evidence to the jury that might have resulted in him being spared the death penalty.

KJ expresses deep remorse and takes full accountability for what he did. While incarcerated, KJ continues to improve his life and work hard to be a caring, devoted and present father to his teenage daughter, Khorry, who adores him and relies on his support.

KJ is worthy of mercy.

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