View Full Version : Anthony Keith Johnson AL RIP

11-13-2003, 11:53 PM
This makes me sick, now we have another State in on the murdering. But now he is finally at peace, which he never had at Holman.


The U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for a stay of execution at 4 p.m. for the Morgan County man. At 4:30, Gov. Don Siegelman's legal adviser, Ted Hosp, called Johnson's attorney and told him that Siegelman would not intervene to save the inmate.
Less than two hours later, Johnson, 46, of Oak Ridge said his last words. At 6:27, he was pronounced dead, the first inmate in the state's history to die by lethal injection.

A Morgan County jury convicted Johnson of capital murder in 1985 because of his role in a robbery attempt that left Hartselle jeweler Kenneth Cantrell dead. Johnson did not kill Cantrell, but he participated in the robbery, authorities said, and fired a weapon. Despite the fact that both Johnson and Cantrell's wife told law-enforcement officers the identity of the killer, Morgan County District Attorney Bob Burrell refused to prosecute.

Burrell was not the district attorney when Johnson was tried.

In a written statement Wednesday, Burrell said he did not prosecute the killer after he became district attorney because investigators failed to provide him with sufficient evidence.

Johnson's death will likely preclude any future effort to prosecute the killer, according to Mike Ball, an agent with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation.

While Siegelman refused to block the execution, he said in a written statement, "It deeply angers me that others who were involved in Mr. Cantrell's murder have never been charged."

Greg Williams, one of Johnson's lawyers, was choked with emotion Thursday evening as he discussed Siegelman's decision.

"Hosp stated that the reason that the governor would not grant a stay was that he did not believe that there would be any prosecutions of the other participants. He acknowledged that Burrell's refusal to move forward was the main reason for that," Williams said.

Williams said he thinks Siegelman was on the verge of halting the execution until he talked to Attorney General Bill Pryor.

"Last night (Wednesday), Hosp was on the verge of informing us that the governor was going to grant a stay until the other side, including the attorney general, had turned up the pressure," Williams said in an e-mail.

Pryor opposed Johnson's petition to the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay. The governor's staff said Siegelman spoke with Pryor on Wednesday morning and again that evening.

At 4:30, one of Johnson's attorneys, Deborah Forbes, met with Johnson in an interview area at Holman Correctional Facility to tell him that Siegelman had denied the request to block or delay the execution.

When prison officials led him back to his cell, Johnson said,
" 'Well, they're not going to offer me a stay.' That's all he said about it," recalled the Rev. Thomas Elder, pastor of the Johnson family's church at Oak Ridge.

Elder witnessed the execution along with the Rev. Tom Dooley, a member of Kairos Prison Ministry.

Elder sat in the witness room, separated by glass from the execution chamber. When guards brought Johnson into the execution chamber, he held up his little finger and index finger in a gesture that means, "I love you," Elder said.

Final words

At 6, medical personnel had already strapped Johnson to a gurney with his arms outstretched and his head propped up. Johnson's last words were directed to the pastors: "I have nothing to say except that I love them, but they already know that."

The warden, Grantt Culliver, injected drugs into intravenous tubes that led behind a wall at the head of Johnson's bed. The wall blocked the view of the injection for the witnesses.

The prison chaplain prayed at the foot of Johnson's bed. Johnson, with his eyes closed, mouthed the words of the prayer.

"They began to inject the drugs. Keith immediately became unconscious, took a couple quick breaths and was with the Lord," Elder said.

Friends and family say Johnson became a Christian seven years ago and changed his life.

Unwavering faith

Elder said Johnson's faith did not waver when he learned that Siegelman would not block the execution.

"His only concern was other people. He said, 'Tonight, I'm free. When they inject me I'll be dead, and in the next moment I'll be with the Lord. But these other people (who were involved in the slaying of Cantrell), they've got to face eternity without the happiness that I will have.' He was a wonderful person. I watched him grow in his faith and his witness," Elder said.

"Keith's entire concern was other people. He was concerned about the pain they were going through, the grief they were suffering. All he was concerned about was how his death was going to affect his family and his many friends," Elder said.

"Here is a guy who led more people to a love of Jesus than most ministers have. He had such a tremendous love of people. He was loving and forgiving and understanding.

"He wasn't out for vengeance. I never heard him say anything hateful or harmful," Elder said.

Johnson's cousin, Deborah Jones, said she last saw him just before he received news that Siegelman denied the petition to block the execution.

"All I can see is Keith's smiling face, reading Scripture and singing praises. He's doing that now in the arms of Jesus, I know. I held him as tight as I could this week, and I know Jesus is doing that for us now," Jones said today.

Elder said he used to believe that executions had a place in the criminal justice system, but watching Johnson's death changed his mind.

"I'm absolutely opposed to executions. I'll never again favor the death penalty. How many other times have people been unjustly executed as Keith was today?" Elder said.

Unjust punishment?

Elder said the criminal justice system is too flawed for the death penalty to be an appropriate punishment.

"Keith was unjustly put to death. He ought not to have been executed. He died because of the lack of courage and integrity of those in authority in the state of Alabama and Morgan County," Elder said.

"For the governor to say he would not stay the execution because he wanted one of the several people involved to be punished that's a cop-out. It's the height of hypocrisy and cowardice. Three men are walking the streets and Keith is dead," Elder said.

"What I'm worried about is that all of this will be forgotten," Elder said. "We can't let that happen."

11-21-2003, 07:31 AM
rest in peace mr. johnson :mad:


1 more thing. this..was stated.."In a written statement Wednesday, Burrell said he did not prosecute the killer after he became district attorney because investigators failed to provide him with sufficient evidence." just stupid. im sorry couldnt they get off their butts & FIND evidence? *shakes head*

as i said. rest in peace. :(

11-22-2003, 02:37 PM
Mr Johnson rest in peace. You are now with your father.
To the city of Alabama, this is a disgrace of injustice.

susan the finn
11-22-2003, 02:50 PM
:( :(

I'm so sad. I can't say anything. *sob*

11-22-2003, 09:00 PM