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12th Federal Execution Under Trump Takes Place

Corey Johnson put to death in Indiana Thursday night
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 15, 2021 12:27 AM CST

(Newser) – The US government executed a drug trafficker Thursday for his involvement in a series of slayings in Virginia’s capital city in 1992, despite claims by his lawyers that the lethal injection would cause excruciating pain due to lung damage from his recent COVID-19 infection. Corey Johnson's lawyers have also argued he was mentally disabled and suffered physical abuse as a child followed by years in the foster care system. The 52-year-old was the 12th inmate put to death at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, since the Trump administration restarted federal executions following a 17-year hiatus. He was pronounced dead at 11:34pm, the AP reports. When he was asked if he had any last words, Johnson appeared surprised and distracted, focusing on a room to his left designated for members of his family. Still, glancing around, he responded to the question, “No. I’m OK.” Several seconds later, he said softly while gazing intently at same room, “Love you.”

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As the lethal drug began flowing through IVs into his arms, which were strapped down on a cross-shaped gurney, Johnson lifted his arm at the wrist and waved to someone in a room for his family. A low murmur emanated from the room for Johnson’s family in which someone seemed to be praying and offering words of assurance to Johnson. For two minutes after the lethal injection began, Johnson continued to try to speak to someone out of view of reporters. But suddenly, his eyelids drew down hard and his mouth fell agape. He moved only slightly after that. Johnson’s execution and Friday’s scheduled execution of Dustin Higgs are the last before next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who opposes the federal death penalty and has signaled he’ll end its use. (Both inmates contracted COVID-19 and won temporary stays of execution this week for that reason, only for higher courts to allow the lethal injections to move forward.)

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