Advocates urge governor to grant clemency in Columbia triple murder




Anti-death penalty advocates delivered a petition Wednesday asking the state to spare the life of Ernest Johnson, saying his intellectual disability makes it unconstitutional to execute the man convicted of a Columbia triple murder.

Johnson is scheduled to die next week from lethal injection after being convicted in 1994 of the murder of three people at a Columbia convenience store. Johnson wanted the money to buy drugs, authorities said. All three workers were beaten with a claw hammer.

Advocates said Johnson is intellectually disabled and has been since childhood. Johnson also had about one-fifth of his brain tissue removed in 2008 during surgery to extract a tumor. Ever since undergoing this treatment, he has experienced painful seizures.

The state supreme court declined last month to halt Johnson’s execution.

Speaker Justice Gangston said two wrongs don’t make a right, referring to the state’s plan to execute Johnson.

Advocates said that what Johnson did was wrong but putting him to death violates his legal rights as a disabled person.

Psychologist Laura Schopp, who was there to drop off the petition, said Johnson has struggled with his disorder since he was a child.

Check back and watch ABC 17 News at 5 and 6 for more on this developing story.

Columbia / Homicide / Local News / News / Top Stories

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