Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: Lonnie Johnson

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A jury convicted Johnson of capital murder in November 1994 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in April 1997. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.

"I am innocent by reason of self-defense," Johnson said in an interview from death row the week before his execution. "The only difference between me and James Byrd Jr. is that I lived," he said. Byrd was a black man who was dragged to death behind a pickup truck in Jasper County in 1998. Juries found three white men guilty of capital murder in Byrd's killing. Two were sent to death row, and the third was given a life sentence.

Johnson said that after he got in the pickup, McCaffrey and Fulk drove him to a remote location, where they forced him from the truck at gunpoint, urinated on him, and threatened to kill him. When the teens relaxed their guard, Johnson said, he wrestled with the pair to grab the pistol, and they were shot. "You do what you have to do," Johnson said. "If I could have run, I'd have done that."

He admitted stealing the pickup truck and trading the gun for drugs after the killings. "I did a few knucklehead things. When things like this are going on, you're not going to think clearly. I was not thinking clearly."

Johnson also said that the assaults he committed in the Harris County Jail were for his own safety.

Johnson's execution was delayed for about 30 minutes as the U.S. Supreme Court considered his final appeal. In his last statement, Johnson expressed love to his friend, Carrie Christensen, who watched from an adjacent room. He did not acknowledge his victims' relatives, who were watching from another room. The lethal injection was started, and he was pronounced dead at 6:30 p.m.

"A beautiful soul was killed today," Christensen said after the execution. "His only crime was to defend himself against racist aggressors." Both of the victims' mothers denied that their children were racists.

Johnson was the 100th prisoner from Harris County to be executed since capital punishment resumed in 1982 following a nationwide moratorium. The occasion was marked by about a half-dozen anti-death-penalty protestors, who stood on the sidewalk outside District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal's home for about an hour Tuesday evening.


By David Carson. Posted on 25 July 2007. Sentence in second paragraph edited to read "The boys agreed to give Johnson a ride" on 24 November 2007.
Sources: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Attorney General's office, Associated Press, Houston Chronicle.

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