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TN Governor Bill Lee will not halt execution of Memphis death row inmate Don Johnson

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee says he will not intervene to halt the execution of death row inmate Don Johnson of Memphis.
Gov. Bill Lee will not stop Thursday’s scheduled execution of convicted murderer Don Johnson

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – UPDATE 5:25 p.m. – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee released the following statement regarding death row inmate Don Johnson:

“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.”

Statement of lead clemency counsel Rev. Charles Fels on behalf of the Don Johnson clemency team:

“Don Johnson has shown he is a person who is deserving of mercy. Although we appreciate Governor Lee and his staff for carefully considering our application for clemency for Don, we, along with thousands of Christians in Tennessee and around the world, are deeply saddened by today’s decision. Also disappointed are thousands of citizens who had hoped that Governor Lee would use his unique constitutional clemency power to consider matters that no court could, including moral transformation, forgiveness, and the entire positive arc of Don’s life after 1984. 

We respect the Governor’s decision, and Don accepts it as God’s will.

Don is at peace and accepts the call to a new life in Christ. He prays for the Governor, the Warden and his staff, Connie, Cynthia and Jason and for all those who he has injured in the past. Don gives thanks to the many Christian friends who have supported him for many decades. He gives particular thanks to the pastors and people of Riverside Chapel Seventh-day Adventist Church who ordained, supported and loved him in his journey, and to the Dysinger family who have been with him in song and in prayer for the past 15 years.  Don’s faith is strong, and he knows where his journey leads.”


As supporters continue to push for clemency, death row inmate Don Johnson of Memphis has now been moved to death watch Tuesday morning.

Johnson killed his wife Connie in Memphis in 1984. The murder was described as brutal. He shoved a 30-gallon plastic trash bag down her throat, suffocating her. A jury convicted him of murder in 1985.

Over the past 30 years, supporters say Johnson changed. They say he found God and took responsibility for his actions. He even became a 7th Day Adventist Minister.

Tuesday, Local 24 News caught up with Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and asked him about granting Johnson clemency.

“We have been deliberatively going thru that process and will have a decision about that and an announcement about that very soon,” said Gov. Lee.

Johnson’s daughter has forgiven him for killing her mother and has asked that her father’s life be spared. However, his son wants the execution to go forward.

The following comes from the TN Department of Corrections:

In accordance with protocol, inmate Donnie Johnson #109031 was moved to death watch this morning shortly after midnight.  Death watch is the three-day period before an execution when strict guidelines are implemented to maintain the security and control of the offender and to maintain safe and orderly operations of the prison.  During this period, the offender is placed in a cell adjacent to the execution chamber where he or she is under 24-hour observation by a team of correctional officers. 

Only those individuals who are on the offender’s official visitation list are allowed to visit the offender during the death watch period.  All visits are non-contact until the final day before the execution at which time the warden decides if the offender can have a contact visit. 

Additional information regarding death watch may be found here: https://www.tn.gov/correction/statistics-and-information/executions/death-watch.html