Federal judge rejects woman’s request to attend father’s execution in Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A federal judge rejected a request from a 19-year-old Missouri woman to attend her father’s execution on Tuesday in Missouri.

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U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes ruled that a state law barring Corionsa “Khorry” Ramey from being present because of her age is constitutional, WDAF-TV reported.

Ramey is the daughter of condemned inmate Kevin Johnson, 37, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection for the 2005 killing of William McEntee, a police officer in Kirkwood, Missouri, according to the television station.

It would be the 14th execution in the U.S. this year but the first of three planned in Missouri, The Associated Press reported. The other two in the state are scheduled for early next year, according to the news organization.

Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union filed an emergency motion with a federal court in Kansas City. The ACLU’s court filing said the law barring people under 21 from attending an execution in Missouri serves no safety purpose and violates Ramey’s constitutional rights.

“By singling out adults younger than 21 such as Ms. Ramey, without any rational relationship to a legitimate governmental or penological interest,” the ACLU’s lawsuit stated.

The complaint added that state law “violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment and the right of freedom of association under the First Amendment.”

Johnson has been in prison since Ramey was 2, according to NBC News. He was 19 when he fatally shot McEntee.

Officials said that Johnson was angry and believed police did not do enough to save his brother, who had died earlier that day of a congenital heart condition.

Johnson ambushed McEntee, 46, who was in his car on the night of July 5, 2005, firing several shots from the passenger side of the vehicle, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Wounded, McEntee drove away and crashed the car about 200 feet away.

Assisted by neighbors, McEntee was able to exit his vehicle. He was on his hands and knees when Johnson walked up and shot him two more times, according to the newspaper. McEntee was struck by seven bullets in total, police said.

In a statement, Ramey said she was “heartbroken” that she was barred from being with her father during his execution.

“My dad is the most important person in my life. He has been there for me my whole life, even though he’s been incarcerated,” Ramey said. “He is a good father, the only parent I have left. He has worked very hard to rehabilitate himself in prison. I pray that Gov. (Mike) Parson will give my dad clemency.”

Ramey said she called her father weekly, visited him in prison and credited him with pushing her to continue her education, NBC News reported. She now works as a nursing assistant, and in September gave birth to her first child, Kiaus.

Ramey said she brought Kiaus to the prison to meet Johnson.

“It was a beautiful but bittersweet moment to me because I realized it might be the only time my dad would get to hold (his) grandson,” Ramey said in a statement.

Johnson’s lawyers are appealing the execution. On Monday, the Missouri Supreme Court will hear arguments, KTVI reported.

“We are heartbroken for Khorry. Every aspect of this case is a tragedy, but we promise Khorry that we are not done fighting for her father,” Shawn Nolan, an attorney for Johnson, said in a statement.