On January 14, the administration of Donald Trump executed Corey Johnson, despite evidence of an intellectual disability. Corey’s execution came a day after Trump was impeached for a second time.
Members of his legal disavowed the execution, calling it a “stark violation of the Constitution and federal law.”
Johnson, 52, had intellectual disabilities, which, under a Supreme Court ruling should have granted him constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
Johnson was injected with a lethal dose of pentobarbital which induces pulmonary edema, a medical condition that fills the lungs with fluid, creating a sensation of drowning while a person is still conscious.
Johnson was diagnosed with COVID-19 last month, and still experiencing symptoms at the time of his execution, leading medical experts to say that his death was tormented, given the damage to his lungs from the virus.
According to a report by Huffington Post, a federal judge heeded the warning of the medical experts about the potential torture Johnson would endure and stayed Johnson’s and another man, Dustin Higgs’ execution on Tuesday (January 12) until March.
The US government appealed, and unfortunately the Supreme Court ruled Johnson’s execution could proceed.
Johnson was pronounced dead at 11:34 p.m.
In his final words, Johnson offered an apology to the victims, told his family members he loved them, and thanked prison staff in the Special Confinement Unit, as well as his legal team and personal spiritual advisers.
“The government’s arbitrary rush to execute Mr. Johnson, who was categorically ineligible for execution due to his significant impairments, rested on procedural technicalities rather than any serious dispute that he was intellectually disabled,” Donald P. Salzman and Ronald J. Tabak, lawyers for Johnson, said in a statement.
“No court ever held a hearing to consider the overwhelming evidence of Mr. Johnson’s intellectual disability. And the clemency process failed to play its historic role as a safeguard against violations of due process and the rule of law,” they added.
Johnson was the 12th person executed under Trump’s administration after a renewal of federal executions, the first in decades.
Higgs, who was also diagnosed with COVID-19 recently, is scheduled to be executed by the US government in the days ahead of Trump’s departure from office.
President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to put an end to the death penalty, a feat advocates are hoping will come to fruition.
In their clemency petition, Johnson’s lawyers detailed his troubled childhood in which he endured abuse from his mother who struggled with drug addiction. He moved often and didn’t receive specialized education until his mother surrendered him to the care of social services and he was placed in a residential facility in upstate New York.
“We loved Corey Johnson, and we knew him as a gentle soul who never broke a rule in prison and kept trying, despite his limitations, to pass the GED. His family and loved ones are in our hearts,” his lawyers said.
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