Kevin “KJ” Johnson, a Black youth, was sentenced to death for the killing of a white Kirkwood police officer, William McEntee, a crime committed when he was 19 years old. Despite many erroneous and unfair court rulings, grossly ineffective counsel, and racist prosecutorial policies, KJ remains on Missouri’s death row. On May 11th, 2022, the Missouri Attorney General motioned the Missouri Supreme Court to set an execution date.
We are asking you to help KJ by signing this petition as we call upon Missouri Governor Parson to spare KJ's life, and grant him clemency.
On the evening of July 5, 2005, Kirkwood police sought to serve a warrant at a family residence. Kevin wasn’t there but observed the events from a neighboring home. While the police were present, Joseph “Bam Bam” Long, Kevin’s twelve-year-old brother, suffered a seizure and collapsed. The police were indifferent to the medical emergency and claimed it was necessary to check the house first for their own safety. Among the police present was McEntee, known to be anything but a model officer in the Meacham Park neighborhood, according to Jamala Rogers, who wrote about the entire tragedy in the St. Louis American newspaper . An ambulance later arrived, and Bam Bam was taken to the hospital, where he died.
Two hours later, McEntee responded to a report of fireworks in the neighborhood, and a chance encounter with Kevin ensued. Kevin said, “you killed my brother,” before shooting McEntee multiple times.
The first trial. Robert P. McCulloch, the Prosecuting Attorney of St. Louis County, personally tried the case; an unusual move thought to be motivated by the fact his own father was a police officer killed in the line of duty. McCulloch sought the death penalty in Kevin's case but could not secure a conviction; the jury hung, favoring, 10-2, a lesser, non-capital charge.
The second trial. In the second trial, the deck was stacked against Kevin from the outset. McCulloch used his peremptory strikes to eliminate Black jurors and ensure a predominately white jury. Despite being a clear Batson violation, objections by counsel were ignored by the judge. This time McColloch got his capital conviction; again, the system failed Kevin. His court-appointed lawyers failed to put before the jury substantial evidence that would have mitigated the crime.
The appeals. The constitution guarantees equal justice, but state prosecutors have vigorously and unabashedly defended McCulloch’s successful effort to eliminate Black peoples from Kevin’s jury. The federal judiciary, which has a duty to enforce the constitution, has displayed a chilling indifference to the unfairness perpetrated in state court, first by assigning a biased judge and then denying Kevin even the right to appeal his claims to the Court of Appeals.
The past, present, and future. Bob McCulloch wore a law and order cloak, one which long masked the ugly truth of his administration. The office he ran was repeatedly rebuked for discriminatory jury selection practices. The Ferguson uprising would again expose his commitment to unequal justice. In his 23 years as Prosecuting Attorney, this was the fifth time McCulloch presented evidence to a grand jury in a shooting committed by St. Louis police, yet in each case, the grand jury failed to indict. More recently, evidence of his discriminatory capital charging and sentencing practices has come to light; he largely reserved the death penalty for crimes whose victims were white. Six of the 15 individuals eligible for execution in Missouri, were sentenced under McCulloch.
Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is committed to uplifting the humanity, life, and need for compassion, support, and empathy for Kevin, who has many family, friends, and supporters who love and value him.
We are asking that Governor Parson grant clemency to Kevin Johnson, and commute his sentence to life without the possibility of parole.
Learn more about Kevin, continue to take action, and stay in touch with us at MADP by visiting www.madpmo.org While there, be sure to sign up to receive our emails and get action alerts to support KJ!!!
- This is the first and official clemency petition for KJ. If you would like to copy or recreate a petition for KJ from this petition, please contact us first at email@example.com.
- Donations to Change.org DO NOT support the efforts of MADP, or individuals listed within this petition. If you would like to support KJ's clemency campaign through MADP, please visit www.madpmo.org