A death row inmate who has been described as having "the intellect of a child" left a note with his final words on them before he was executed...
And despite his crime, it was utterly heartbreaking...
Have a look for yourselves.
Now, although abolished in many countries, the death penalty is still retained in some parts of the world.
These countries include China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and of course, the United States of America.
The death penalty has been a part of the US justice system for centuries...
And the penalty, which is often referred to as capital punishment, has been in action since approximately 1608... Yep, it's really that old.
But it's not currently legal in every state.
And as the years have gone on, it's become more and more of a controversial and taboo subject.
Many U.S states have now abolished the death penalty for a number of reasons...
Including the risk factors of executing an innocent person, the fact it doesn't prevent future crimes, and the fact that it is both discriminatory and can be used politically, as per Amnesty.
Organizations such as Amnesty have been fighting for decades to have the death penalty abolished entirely and they have been trying to expose and hold to account governments that continue to use the punishment.
Many find the death penalty totally barbaric.
When questioned, it's difficult to justify the state killing its citizens.
Campaigners argued that many of those executed over the last few years were killed despite suffering from serious mental and physical illnesses...
Which should have rendered the death penalty an unconstitutional punishment.
And some states have made huge progress in this field.
History was made by Virginia being the first-ever southern state to abolish the death penalty. Other states which have abolished capital punishment include Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, and Washington.
People were overjoyed by the news, to say the least...
And many are even calling for the abolishment to be nationwide.
Virginia is now the twenty-third state to abolish the death penalty.
And many are hoping for other Southern states to follow suit.
But one state that is showing little signs of movement on the issue is Missouri.
Meet Ernest Lee Johnson. Missing 20% of his brain. Intellectually disabled. Brain function of a 5 year old. Missouri, a state with a long history steeped in slavery, racist state violence & murder, is going to murder this man today. #AbolishTheDeathPenalty pic.twitter.com/DxTFPe4bCG— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) October 5, 2021
And the most recent man to be executed by the state is Ernest Lee Johnson, a man who has been described as "having the intellect of a child."
It was discovered that the sixty-one-year-old had limited cognitive abilities when he killed 3 people during a robbery that took place in 1994.
Demonstrators have gathered outside @GovParsonMO’s office to protest the execution of Ernest Lee Johnson. @elysemax, executive director of @MADPMO, says “The eyes of the nation are transfixed on Missouri right now.” #moleg #mogov pic.twitter.com/ujGeoat5IE— Cameron Gerber (@CamGWrites) October 5, 2021
Johnson was arrested and placed on death row, despite his disability.
Prominent figures and activists spoke out against the ruling and the state government's decision to continue with the execution.
And at one point, even Pope Francis plead with Mike Parson for leniency given the circumstances but unfortunately, the decision could not be overturned and on Monday, Parson announced that the execution would still be going ahead.
According to the Missouri Department of Corrections, the deed took place at 6:11 PM local time via lethal injection.
#BREAKING: Clemency denied for Ernest Lee Johnson, @GovParsonMO says in release; Johnson was sentenced to death in 1995 for killing 3 employees of a Columbia convenience store; his attorneys had urged Parson to block the execution because of diminished mental capacity #moleg pic.twitter.com/WdlApyYx6V— Rudi Keller (@RudiKellerMI) October 4, 2021
However, just before his death, the sixty-one-year-old reiterated his remorse for his actions in 1994 during his final statement which was made public by the department after his death.
It became a heartbreaking talking point online with some blaming the laws of the country for being so barbaric...
Tell me why we are the greatest country on earth. I'll wait.— R.A. Contreras, M.A. 🖋 (@commgrad71) October 6, 2021
Every execution is unconstitutional.— Hank Schumacher (@The2Hanks) October 6, 2021
No one in this country can say they are Pro Life--including no catholic bishops --until they are vocal and active to ban the death penalty in this country.— JoAnne McCarthy (@JoAnneM90804076) October 6, 2021
We the people of this nation must move heaven and earth to abolish the wretched evil curse that is the death penalty. We cannot call ourselves a civilized nation, in any full sense of the word, until this is accomplished.— Fair Chance (@gcamacho1275) October 6, 2021
If this was practised in an African country, America will be saying that we are uncivilized but because it is them then we just have to shut up and watch.— Kelebogile Kepadisa (@Girly_Kepadisa) October 6, 2021
Well, she was white.— Tar Heels77 (@THeels77) October 6, 2021
There's a fundamental problem with our legal system when we lock and execute people with mental issues. They need treatment in an environment where they can relieve help. Not saying they should go free but we need to change this norm.— BamaGirl (@OBXsandbox) October 6, 2021
So the pro-life, evangelical state of Missouri just took the life of a human being with intellectual disability!— johnny v. (@Johnveg03112845) October 6, 2021
In his final words, Johnson said this:
Despite plea from various parts of the world including the Pope, Ernest Lee Johnson has finally being executed and here are his last words pic.twitter.com/1kYftAL9lc— Naija (@Naija_PR) October 6, 2021
"I want to say that I love my family and friends," he wrote, adding that he was thankful for his lawyer. "For all the people that has prayed for me [sic], I thank them."
He also added that he had asked forgiveness from God and hopes he would be going to Heaven.
He signed off the piece writing: "Whit [sic] respect, Ernest L. Johnson."
Rest in peace to all the lives lost in this tragic story.