A former Covington man is scheduled to die by lethal injection Thursday night, his request for mercy denied by Gov. Bill Lee.
"After a prayerful and deliberate consideration of Don Johnson‘s request for clemency, and after a thorough review of the case, I am upholding the sentence of the State of Tennessee and will not be intervening," he said via email Tuesday.
Johnson, 68, has been on death row since October 1985 when he was convicted of murdering his wife, Connie. He has made headlines recently as adopted daughter Cynthia Vaughn and the Seventh-day Adventist Church both petitioned for Lee to commute the death sentence ahead of the planned execution.
Cynthia was seven years old, and her brother four, when Connie was murdered.
On Dec. 9, 1984, Johnson filed a missing persons report with the Covington Police Department, telling them his wife had gone Christmas shopping and hadn't returned.
Connie's body was found hours later in the family's van, which was parked at the Mall of Memphis, by Don's boss. Don told his employer to search parking lots in Memphis.
Connie had been killed the day before as the result of Don stuffing a 30-gallon plastic bag down her throat and had a coworker help him move her body. Don was arrested on Dec. 13, 1984 after keys and a handkerchief linked him to her murder and has been in custody for nearly 35 years.
Since his incarceration, Don has become deeply religious and is now an elder in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He reportedly has a following in prison.
Don was originally scheduled to die in the electric chair in 2006, but the execution was delayed. Cynthia told the Commercial Appeal at the time she wanted "the freak to burn," but forgave him during a visit six years later.
Last week, he wrote a letter to his family members in which he asked for forgiveness.
"I truly regret my life and what I became in the process. I am and will continue to carry the pain of all the grief that I have caused others to endure and that have hurt so many others," he wrote. "The Lord in His mercy has forgiven me and all I can so is pray that you too will find it in your heart to forgive me as well, for 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."
Don is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m.
He has decided to forego a request for a special meal but asked, instead, a vegetarian pizza be delivered to the homeless.