Missouri Supreme Court declines to halt August execution of man convicted of killing child

This undated photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows Johnny Johnson. The Missouri Supreme Court on Friday, June 9, 2023, has turned aside an appeal by Johnson, who is scheduled to be executed in August for killing a 6-year-old girl. (Missouri Department of Corrections via AP) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The Missouri Supreme Court has turned aside an appeal by a man scheduled to be executed in August for killing a 6-year-old girl.

Johnny Johnson, 45, was convicted of first-degree murder in in the 2002 death of Casey Williamson in suburban St. Louis. He faces execution Aug. 1 unless the courts intervene or Republican Gov. Mike Parson grants clemency.

Johnson's lawyers said in the appeal that he is incompetent to be executed because his schizophrenia prevents him from understanding the link between his crime and the punishment. The appeal said Johnson has delusions about the devil using his death to bring about the end of the world.

The Missouri Attorney General's Office challenged the credibilty of the psychiatric evaluation and said medical records indicate that Johnson is able to manage his mental illness through medication. The state Supreme Court, in a 6-1 ruling, agreed.

Johnson was staying with friends in Valley Park, Missouri, in July 2002, when Casey went missing. Dozens of volunteers joined police in the search.

The girl’s body was found in a pit less than a mile from her home, buried beneath rocks and debris. Johnson confessed that he used bricks and rocks to beat Casey after she fought back when he tried to sexually assault her.

Missouri has executed three people this year, more than any state except Texas. The most recent was on Tuesday, when Michael Tisius was put to death for killing two jailers during a failed attempt to break another man out of jail.