Richmond, Va. – The U.S. government executed a drug trafficker on Thursday for his role in multiple murders in the Virginia capital city of 1992, despite claims by his lawyers that the deadly injection could cause distressing pain due to lung damage from his recent CVID-19 infection.
Corey Johnson, 52, was jailed for 12 years in the federal prison complex in Indiana Terre, as the Trump administration carried out the federal execution after a gap of 17 years.
He was pronounced dead at 11:34 p.m.
When asked if he had any last words, Johnson appeared surprised and confused, focusing on a room on the left side designated for his family members. Still, looking around, he answered the question, “No. I’m fine. “A few seconds later, he looked at the same room and said softly,” I love you. “
The deadly drug began to flow from the fourth into his arm, which was pressed against a cross-shaped gourd, Johnson raised his hand to his wrist and rocked to someone in a room for the family. For Johnson’s family, there was a small commotion from the house in which it seemed as if someone was praying and reassuring Johnson. For two minutes after the deadly injection, Johnson continued to try to talk to anyone in the eyes of reporters. But suddenly, his eyelids tightened and his face became immobile. After that he moved a little.
After an officer announced Johnson’s death, applause could be heard from another person in the witness room and someone could be heard whistling.
Johnson’s execution and Dustin Higgs’ scheduled execution on Friday ended before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden next week, who opposed the federal death penalty and indicated he would end its use. Both detainees were contracted to COVID-19 and this week only won a temporary stay in the high courts to allow lethal injections to proceed.
Lawyers have argued before the fatal injections of pentobarbital that the flash has created pulmonary edema, where the fluid quickly fills the lungs and awakens the sensation like drowning. The new claim was that the liquid would enter the damaged lungs of the inmates immediately whenever they were aware.
Johnson was seen in Richmond with 11 people killed in a 45-day period, the most gang rape. He and two other members of the Newtown gang were sentenced to death under a federal law that targets large-scale drug traffickers.
In their clemency appeal, Johnson’s lawyers described a painful childhood in which he was physically abused by his drug-addicted mother and her boyfriends, abandoned at the age of 13, and then shaken into residential and institutional facilities until foster care was provided. They cited childhood IQ tests that put him in a mentally handicapped class after he was punished, and tests in prison showed that he could only read and write at the elementary school level.
In a final statement given to his lawyers, Johnson said he was “sorry for my crime” and said he should remember the victims. He said he ate and drank pizza and strawberries before the execution, but did not get his desired donuts. He also thanked his minister and lawyer.
“I’m fine,” he said in a statement. “I’m at peace”
Johnson’s lawyers said in a statement that the government had “executed an intellectually disabled person” in violation of the Constitution and federal law, and strongly denied that he had the mental capacity to be a so-called drug kingpin.
Attorneys, Donald Salzman and Ronald Tabak, said “Johnson was significantly responsible for his voluntary execution of Johnson, who was intellectually incapacitated and rested on procedural technologies without any serious controversy.”
Official filing spelled Johnson’s name “Corey,” but his lawyers said he spelled it “Corey.”
Richard Benedict, who was Johnson’s special education teacher at a New York school for spiritually challenged children, said Johnson was 1ractive and at the age of 1 17 was second or third-level, high-minded, anxious and reading and writing.
“I have to walk someone to the bathroom because he couldn’t come back to the classroom,” Benedict said.
Prosecutors, however, said Johnson did not show that he was mentally disabled.
“He has an intellectual disability that can be overturned as well as the death penalty. The court repeatedly and correctly concluded that Johnson’s seven murders were planned to further his drug trafficking and that he was not emotionally abused by anyone who was unable to give a verdict, and so on. It deserves the death penalty, ”prosecutors argued in court documents.
A defense psychologist testified during the trial that while Johnson’s IQ was measured above the magnetic score of 77, someone needed to be identified as mentally handicapped. Johnson’s appeal lawyers say the psychologist was not an expert on intellectual disabilities and that the current standards are outdated.
City Chief Woody Jr., the main murder detective in the case, said that during interrogation of Johnson, he denied any involvement in the murder and said that the police wanted to frame him because people were lying about him.
“I don’t think he has any mental problems other than his hatred and respect for human life – which is nothing,” Woody said.
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard Vic Jr., one of the prosecutors in the case, said the violence that Johnson and his fellow gang members committed was unparalleled at the time. One of the gang members was stabbed 65 times and another was shot 116 times. Johnson was convicted of being the victim of a triple murder, and participated in four other capital murders, including the shooting death of a competing drug dealer 15 times.
Michael Balsamo, vice-associate press writer in Washington, and news researchers Rinda Schaffner and Jennifer Farar contributed to the report, Lavoie reports from Richmond.
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