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What Missouri's execution of Johnny Johnson tells us about the legal system

How do courts and the state decide whether someone is mentally competent to be executed? Last week, Johnny Johnson — a Missouri man with schizophrenia, who was convicted of abducting and killed a girl two decades ago — was killed by lethal injection after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to issue a stay in his case.

Recently, the state of Missouri executed 45-year-old Johnny Johnson, who was convicted of the 2002 killing of 6-year-old Casey Williamson. But Johnson's attorneys say the man, who has schizophrenia, was not mentally competent enough to understand the connection between his execution and the crime he committed.

KCUR's Nomin Ujiyediin spoke with Mark Joseph Stern, a senior reporter covering courts for Slate, about the case, the U.S. Supreme Court's recent actions around execution, and what it tell us about our legal system.

Contact the show at news@kcur.org. Follow KCUR on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news.

Kansas City Today is hosted by Nomin Ujiyediin. It is produced by Paris Norvell, Byron Love, and KCUR Studios, and edited by Gabe Rosenberg and Lisa Rodriguez.

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As a newscaster and a host of a daily news podcast, I want to deliver the most important and interesting news of the day in an engaging and easily understandable way. No matter where you live in the metro or what you’re interested in, I want you to learn something from each newscast or podcast – and maybe even give you something to talk about at the dinner table.
Paris Norvell is a freelance podcast producer for KCUR Studios,
Gabriella "Gabby" Lacey is an intern for KCUR Studios. She will begin her junior year at the Missouri School of Journalism in the fall.
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