NCADP: National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Timothy Johnston
Missouri
August 31, 2005

Take action at
www.demaction.org/dia/organizations/ncadp/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=1129

The state of Missouri is scheduled to execute 44-year-old Timothy Johnston, a white man, on Aug. 31, 2005 for the June 30, 1989 murder of his wife Nancy.

Johnston claims law enforcement officials violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures when they recovered evidence without benefit of a warrant. Johnston asserts police used this "illegally seized" evidence to obtain Johnston's subsequent confession and that the trial court erred in refusing to suppress both the evidence and the
confession. The appeals court ruled that the evidence that convicted him was legally obtained and that the evidence illegally obtained was only circumstantial.

Johnston alleges that there was prosecutorial misconduct at trial. Johnston assigned error to references the prosecutor made in closing argument to Satan. The state said, referring to Johnston, "Ladies and gentlemen, there sits Satan. There sits embodiment of evil." Even though the objections were upheld and the jury was to disregard the statement there is a high
likelihood that the jurors would not be able to forget this statement. The trial court refused to uphold the objection when the prosecutor said "domestic violence is ten times more violent on the average than when violence happens on the streets." If this statistic was true, it was not
a fact in evidence.

Johnston also claimed that his defense counsel failed to investigate and present mental health evidence of a psychiatrist's apparent finding that Johnston could not deliberate because of head injuries, alcohol dependence and either organic or personality disorder. Johnston claimed his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to obtain and present to certain experts' "objective evidence" of his alleged brain damage. He argues he should have received an MRI test to
determine the existence of any brain abnormalities. The appeals court ruled that the tests given were adequate and that it was not ineffective assistance of counsel by not giving him an MRI.

His final claim is that lethal injection is a violation of his Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. He contends that state's chemical mixture of sodium pentothal pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride will cause him to "consciously suffer an excruciating painful and protracted death." He also argues that inadequately trained personnel with inappropriate equipment will administer the dose.

Johnston is a man with a possible mental illness, his trial was surrounded by prosecutorial misconduct. It would be cruel and unusual to put this man to death.

Please contact Gov. Blunt and the Missouri Board of Pardons and Paroles and ask them to spare the life of Timothy Johnston.

(source: NCADP)