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Inmate Declines Special Last Meal, Wants to Feed Homeless

Donnie Johnson turns down $20 meal, asks supporters to feed the homeless instead
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2019 12:35 PM CDT
Donnie Johnson   (Tennessee Department of Correction)

(Newser) – Donnie Edward Johnson declined to choose a special last meal, and will eat what the general prison population eats before his 7pm execution Thursday. But the convicted murderer is calling for his supporters to buy a meal for a homeless person, the Tennessean reports. Johnson's lawyer says he was inspired by Philip Workman, another Tennessee death row inmate and someone Johnson calls a friend, who asked that the $20 the state allots for an inmate's last meal be used to send pizza to a local homeless shelter instead. It was not, but Workman's supporters across the country did send pizza to shelters, WSMV reports. Johnson is hoping his will do the same. The 68-year-old murdered his wife in 1984 by stuffing a 30-gallon trash bag down her throat, suffocating her.

Johnson's legal team does not dispute what he did, but points out that while imprisoned he's undergone a religious transformation, becoming an elder in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and leading prayer services for his fellow inmates. Even his wife's daughter, whom Johnson adopted, has asked for mercy for him. But Gov. Bill Lee denied Johnson's clemency appeal Tuesday, and the Supreme Court declined to hear his case. On Wednesday, Johnson released a statement asking his children and his wife's family for forgiveness and noting, "There is no way I can fix or take back the person that I had become, and not a day goes by that I do not experience the pain of knowing the grief I had caused so many others to suffer in the process." (After a series of apologies, Georgia man is executed.)

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