Clemency for #ErnestJohnson                 Organization Letter
Have your organization, faith leader, or representatives sign this letter urging Governor Parson to grant clemency to Ernest Johnson and reduce his sentence to life.

Please reach out to Elyse Max at for any questions or comments.

(Add your name and organization below using this form. Emails will not be published publicly.)

Honorable Michael Parson
Missouri State Capitol
Rm. 216
Jefferson City, MO  65101

July 29th, 2021

RE: Clemency for Ernest Lee Johnson

Dear Governor Parson,

On October 5th, 2021, the state of Missouri is set to carry out the execution of Ernest Lee Johnson, a man who is intellectually disabled. Mr. Johnson was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder in the 1994 deaths of Mary Bratcher, Mable Scruggs, and Fred Jones, three employees of Casey’s convenience store in Columbia, MO.  In the past 26 years of appeals, courts have upheld his conviction but overturned the death sentences and granted new penalty phases due to errors in the presentation of evidence about Johnson’s intellectual/developmental disability (I/DD).  

In 2002 The U.S. Supreme Court decided Atkins v. Virginia, holding that the 8th Amendment prohibits the execution of people with I/DD.  The Supreme Court left to the states how to define I/DD in regards to eligibility for a death sentence. Missouri utilizes a three-part test to determine whether someone is intellectually disabled. A person must establish they have significantly subaverage intelligence through IQ testing, continual and extensive related deficits in two or more adaptive functions, and the onset of the intellectual disability prior to the age of 18.  Ernest Johnson objectively meets all three categories.

In 2006 jurors decided to recommend Ernest be sentenced to death by lethal injection. His attorneys argue that the jury was given a clinical definition of intellectual disability but no guidance on how to apply the clinical definition to the facts. In fact, an error in jury instructions fails to establish that the jury voted unanimously against Johnson, as required by the U.S. and Missouri Constitutions.

The death penalty is rife with errors and inconsistencies and has a steep cost financially and to human life. State governments are not perfect and due to this individuals protected under Atkins v Virginia are sentenced to death. Killing Ernest Johnson is simply unconstitutional.

We, the undersigned organizations, believe Ernest Johnson is deserving of clemency as he is intellectually disabled and therefore should not be eligible for execution. Please use your executive power to stay the execution of Ernest Johnson, and reduce his sentence to life so that the State of Missouri does not violate Mr. Johnson’s right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

Respectfully Signed,

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