Governor Lee denies clemency request for condemned inmate Don Johnson

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Governor Bill Lee has denied a request for clemency in the execution of Don Johnson.

The Governor released a statement Tuesday: 

After a prayerful and deliberate consideration of Don Johnson‘s request for clemency, and after a thorough review of the case, I am upholding the sentence of the State of Tennessee and will not be intervening.

Johnson is scheduled to be executed Thursday at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville.  

Johnson’s legal team released a statement after the governor’s announcement:   

Don Johnson has shown he is a person who is deserving of mercy. Although we appreciate Governor Lee and his staff for carefully considering our application for clemency for Don, we, along with thousands of Christians in Tennessee and around the world, are deeply saddened by today’s decision. Also disappointed are thousands of citizens who had hoped that Governor Lee would use his unique constitutional clemency power to consider matters that no court could, including moral transformation, forgiveness, and the entire positive arc of Don’s life after 1984.  

We respect the Governor’s decision, and Don accepts it as God’s will. 

Don is at peace and accepts the call to a new life in Christ. He prays for the Governor, the Warden and his staff, Connie, Cynthia and Jason and for all those who he has injured in the past. Don gives thanks to the many Christian friends who have supported him for many decades. He gives particular thanks to the pastors and people of Riverside Chapel Seventh-day Adventist Church who ordained, supported and loved him in his journey, and to the Dysinger family who have been with him in song and in prayer for the past 15 years.  Don’s faith is strong, and he knows where his journey leads. 

The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to hear a case challenging Tennessee’s lethal injection protocol ahead of Johnson’s execution.  

The appeal filed by Tennessee death row inmates claimed the drugs cause “excruciating pain.” 

In a 21-page letter written to Governor Lee on behalf of Don Johnson, his attorneys state “Don has been forgiven by Cynthia Vaughn, the only daughter of Connie Johnson, Don’s wife, the woman whose death Don caused.” 

Johnson was one of six inmates whose previous execution dates were stayed due to pending litigation. 

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