Two US death row inmates executed

17 May 2019 / 10:40 H.

WASHINGTON: A Tennessee man who killed his wife and an Alabama man convicted of a quadruple murder were executed by lethal injection Thursday.

Donnie Edward Johnson, 68, was convicted in 1984 of murdering his wife, Connie Johnson, in Memphis, Tennessee, by stuffing a plastic garbage bag down her throat and suffocating her.

Michael Brandon Samra, 41, was convicted in 1998 for his involvement in the murders of Randy Duke, Duke’s girlfriend Dedra Mims Hunt, and Hunt’s six-year-old and seven-year-old daughters.

Samra, who is described as being of “borderline intelligence” in court documents, was 19 years old at the time of the 1997 murders in Pelham, Alabama.

He carried out the slayings with Duke’s 16-year-old son, Mark Duke, who was angry because his father had denied him the use of his truck.

Randy Duke and Dedra Mims Hunt were shot to death while the two young girls had their throats slit.

Mark Duke was also sentenced to death but his sentence was changed to life in prison after the US Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that offenders who were under 18 years old at the time of their crimes should not be executed.

Samra had appealed his death sentence on the grounds that the death penalty should not be applied to offenders who were under 21 years old at the time of their crimes but the Supreme Court has declined to raise the age.

His lawyers had also asked Alabama Governor Kay Ivey to grant Samra clemency on the same grounds. But she refused, saying Thursday’s execution showed “justice has been delivered” and that “Alabama does not tolerate murderous acts of any nature.”

In Tennessee, Johnson asked Governor Bill Lee to stay his execution because he had been redeemed through Seventh-Day Adventist religious practice during his time in prison.

Despite support for clemency from the head of his church, Catholic bishops and the daughter of his victim, Lee declined.

Before his execution, Johnson said, “I commend my life into your hands. Thy will be done. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.”

There were five previous executions in the United States this year, three in Texas, one in Georgia and one in Alabama. — AFP

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