17 May 2019 :
Donnie Edward Johnson was executed today. Johnson, now 68, White, was sentenced to death in 1985 for the Dec. 8, 1984 murder of his wife, Connie Johnson. Donnie Johnson initially told police he was not involved in the murder, but he no longer contests his guilt. Instead, Johnson says he should be spared because of how much he’s changed over the course of three decades behind bars. In a clemency application submitted to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Johnson’s lawyers said he had gone from "a liar, a cheat, a con man and a murderer" to an ordained elder in the Seventh-day Adventist Church "with a flock in prison." Johnson’s appeal for mercy leans heavily on his Christian faith and his relationship with his stepdaughter, Cynthia Vaughn, the victim’s daughter. (see April 3, 2019). Vaughn initially condemned Johnson for killing her mother, at one point saying, "I want the freak to burn." But after meeting with Johnson in 2012, she forgave him and became the most compelling advocate in his fight to avoid execution. Vaughn has requested a meeting with the governor to make the case for mercy. Lee's Christian faith played a central role in his campaign for governor. Donnie Edward Johnson becomes the 1st person executed this year in Tennessee, the 10th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 2000, the 7th person executed this year in the US, and the 1,497th person executed in the United States since 1977.