Killer’s plea to be executed by firing squad denied as he faces lethal injection

A murderer on death row who wants to be killed by a firing squad instead of a lethal injection has seen his final request refused by the US Supreme Court.

Ernest Johnson was convicted for the brutal murders of three shop workers whilst robbing a store in Missouri, in 1994.

The killer says he doesn’t want lethal injection because it could cause him to have painful seizures.

This is because the drug used in the execution, pentobarbital, could clash with a benign tumour he has on his brain, LADbible reports.

Officials who turned down Johnson’s request said it was because of procedural issues.

The convict wanted to be executed with nitrogen gas at first, with the Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit allowing it.

But in a different case in 2019, the Supreme Court decided a state could refuse to use nitrogen in executions as there wasn’t a “track record of successful use”.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor slammed the decision and said it wasn’t fair to deny Johnson’s request without an appeal.

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Going against the court, she wrote: "Johnson has plausibly pleaded that, if he is executed using pentobarbital, he will experience pain akin to torture.

“Those factual allegations must be accepted as true at this stage of the litigation."

She added: "Yet despite the risk of severe pain rising to the level of cruel and unusual punishment, the Eighth Circuit has ensured that no court will ever review the evidence in support of Johnson's Eighth Amendment claim."

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The death penalty has been used in Missouri since 1810.

Between 1810 and 1965, 285 executions have been carried out.

Justice Sotomayor continued: “There are higher values than ensuring that executions run on time.

"The Eighth Amendment sets forth one: We should not countenance the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment simply for the sake of expediency.

“That is what the Eighth Circuit's decision has done.

“Because this court chooses to stand idly by, I respectfully dissent."

Executions in the state have faced controversy for its conduct after a 2015 study found cases that involved white victims were seven times more likely to result in execution than those that involved black victims.

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