Ray Johnson executed as death penalty opponents protest

Ray Johnson executed as death penalty opponents protest
Security checks prior to Johnson's execution
Security checks prior to Johnson's execution
Johnson was executed at the prison in Jackson
Johnson was executed at the prison in Jackson

JACKSON, GA (WALB) - More than 21 years after brutally murdering a Lee County single mother, Ray Johnson is dead.

After years of delays, Johnson was executed by lethal injection at the state prison in Jackson and pronounced dead at 10:11 p.m. Thursday.

An AP reporter who witnessed the execution said Johnson showed no emotion.

"The warden left the room and he was very still, he moved his feet a little bit, and then he was blinking and he took several deep breaths, and then he was still," explained execution witness Kate Brumback.

Earlier Thursday, the Georgia Supreme Court denied Johnson's appeal and refused to halt Thursday's execution.

Johnson's attorneys filed several last minute appeals with the U.S. Supreme Court that were all denied.

Protesters with their signs stood behind ropes at the Jackson State Prison, calling for an end to the death penalty.

Mary Catherine Johnson from the Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty said, "The death penalty needs to end. It's too costly on a human level, on a financial level."

"I'm ashamed to be a Georgian tonight. We continue to kill people and its barbaric," said Robert Wright the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.

Prison guards and K9s checked cars as people came through the gates for Johnson's execution, an execution that Mary Catherine Johnson says doesn't have the facts to support it. "There's a lot of evidence that Ray Johnson is innocent and the courts have denied him in every step of the way," she said.

Protesters also held onto their faith during Thursday's vigil. "Georgia purports to be a Christian state but there's nothing in Jesus's word or example that condones this behavior," explained Wright.

"Believe in the humanity of all people and that we're all better and more than the worst thing we've ever done," said Johnson.

The protesters said it is possible to be against the death penalty and also have compassion for the victim's family.

Ray Johnson was sentenced to death for raping Angela Sizemore and stabbing her 41 times after meeting her in a bar in March of 1994. Johnson was convicted and sentenced to death in April 1998.

The day before he was scheduled to be executed in October 2011, it was stopped when his lawyers asked for new DNA testing on evidence.

In April of this year, a judge denied Johnson's motion for a new trial and Wednesday he was denied clemency.

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