Waiting to die: Corey Johnson

News 10's Sarah Lehman served as a media witness for Corey Johnson's execution at the federal prison in Terre Haute.

Posted: Jan 15, 2021 1:58 AM
Updated: Jan 15, 2021 8:52 PM

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) -- Corey Johnson is the 12th death row inmate to be executed in Terre Haute since they started in July.

Corey Johnson was set to be executed at 6 o'clock Thursday night, but because of legal litigation to the supreme court, his execution was delayed by about 5 hours.

His legal team argued two main points. First, Johnson was not intellectually fit enough to understand what was going on. Also, because he had just gotten over COVID-19 the lethal injection would be more painful for his scarred lungs.

After a few hours, the Supreme Court denied any stay of execution for Johnson.

Blinds in the execution chamber went up just a little after 11. Johnson was glancing and waving to the room next to the media witnesses. That is where his family and friends are.

When asked if he had any final words Johnson said "No, I'm okay" and then quickly said, "Love you".

Then, the lethal injection started. Johnson showed very little outward signs of pain or discomfort.

This is the 4th federal execution I have watched. During those, I have described seeing rapid breathing, fidgeting fingers, and looks of pain. Johnson exhibited none of those. 

He took a few deep breaths in, his feet moved around a little bit, and then his eyes closed and mouth slowly opened just a little bit. It took less time than the others I have watched.

During his execution, I could hear someone almost chanting in the room next to us. I do not know what they were saying, but it almost sounded like "We love you Corey" over and over again.

At around 11:32 the medical examiner came in and checked his heartbeat, pulse, and breathing. Johnsons time of death was called at 11:34.

When the federal employee officially called Johnson's time of death and concluded the execution, the other media witnesses and I heard people clapping and whistling almost as if in celebration. Another media witness said they saw it coming from the room where the victims' family and friends are held.

This was the first time in the 4 executions I have watched I have heard anyone other than federal employees, or the inmate.

About an hour after the execution we received a statement from Johnson's attorneys and Johnson himself.

It said:

“I want to say that I am sorry for my crimes. I wanted to say that to the families who were victimized by my actions, and I want these names to be remembered.

Louis Johnson
Anthony Carter
Dorothy Armstrong
Curtis Thorne
Linwood Chiles
Peyton Johnson
Bobby Long

I would have said I was sorry before, but I didn't know how. I hope you will find peace.

To my family, I have always loved you, and your love has made me real. On the streets, I was looking for shortcuts, I had some good role models, I was side tracking, I was blind and stupid.
I am not the same man that I was.

To the staff in the SCU. Thank you, you have been kind.

The pizza and strawberry shake were wonderful, but I didn't get the jelly-filled donuts that ordered. What's with that? This should be fixed.

Thanks to the Chaplain who has been kind.

Thanks to my legal team. Don has been more than a lawyer, he has become a friend.

I am thankful to my minister. I am okay. I am at peace.”

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