Murderer put to death for killing girl, 6, has burger feast before last words

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Johnny Johnson was put to death on Tuesday (Image: KTVI)
Johnny Johnson was put to death on Tuesday (Image: KTVI)

A man put to death for abducting a 6-year-old girl before beating her to death enjoyed a burger feast hours before his execution.

Johnny Johnson, 45, received a a lethal dose of pentobarbital at a state prison in Bonne Terre and was pronounced dead at 6:33 p.m. CDT, authorities said. He was convicted of the July 2002 killing of Casey Williamson in the small St. Louis area suburb of Valley Park.

According to reports Johnson enjoyed a simple meal of burger, curly fries and a strawberry milkshake. He also expressed remorse in a brief handwritten statement released by the Department of Corrections hours before the execution. In his statement he said: "God Bless. Sorry to the people and family I hurt."

The girl's disappearance from her hometown of Valley Park on July 26, 2002, had set off a frantic search before her body was ultimately found. Casey's mother had been best friends in childhood with Johnson's older sister and had even helped babysit him.

After Johnson attended a barbecue the night before the killing, Casey's family let him sleep on a couch in the home where they also were sleeping.

Man in 30s dies after being stabbed in park sparking police probe eideziqkeiqhhinvMan in 30s dies after being stabbed in park sparking police probe
Murderer put to death for killing girl, 6, has burger feast before last wordsJohnny Johnson with his attorney Bevy Beimdiek during his sentencing hearing (AP)

In the morning, Johnson lured the girl - still in her nightgown - to the abandoned factory, even carrying her on his shoulders on the walk to the dilapidated site, according to court documents.

When he tried to sexually assault her, Casey screamed and tried to break free, they said. He then killed her with a brick and a large rock, then washed off in the nearby Meramec River. Johnson confessed that same day to the crimes, according to authorities.

After a search involving first responders and volunteers, Casey's body was found in a pit less than a mile from her home, buried beneath rocks and debris.

At Johnson's trial, defence lawyers had presented testimony showing that their client - an ex-convict who had been released from a state psychiatric facility six months before the crime - had stopped taking his schizophrenia medication and was acting strangely in the days before the slaying.

Murderer put to death for killing girl, 6, has burger feast before last wordsSix-year-old Cassandra "Casey" Williamson was found dead after being kidnapped (Getty Images)

In June, the Missouri Supreme Court denied an appeal seeking to block the execution on arguments that Johnson had schizophrenia that prevented him from understanding the link between his crime and the punishment. The Missouri Attorney General's Office successfully challenged the credibility of the psychiatric evaluation and said medical records indicate that Johnson was able to manage his mental illness through medication.

A three-judge federal appeals court panel last week temporary halted the planned execution, but the full 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated it. Johnson's attorneys then filed appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court centered around his competency to be executed.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Monday denied a clemency request to reduce Johnson's sentence to life in prison. "Johnny Johnson's crime is one of the most horrific murders that has come across my desk," Parson, a former sheriff, said in a statement.

The execution was the 16th in the U.S. this year. In addition to three previous executions in Missouri, five have been conducted in Texas, four in Florida, two in Oklahoma and one in Alabama. There were 18 executions in six U.S. states last year.

William Walker

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