Supreme Court halts cop-killer executionby Dara Kam | October 28th, 2009
Johnson, whom Gov. Charlie Crist scheduled to be put to death on Thursday, went on a killing spree 28 years ago after a drug binge.
The Court issued the indefinite stay because of “significant issues raised” in Johnson’s appeal regarding prosecutorial misconduct, the order reads.
Johnson’s lawyers argued in his appeal that his conviction is tainted because a jailhouse witness who testified against him was working secretly for prosecutors, who later denied their connection to the inmate.
The inmate later recanted his testimony and said he was instructed by prosecutors to take notes about what Johnson said, which he did.
Prosecutors later denied that, but Johnson’s lawyers found written notes that showed they were in contact with the inmate and had told him to “keep his ears open and take notes.”
Johnson, 60, was found guilty of the 1981 murders of a cab driver, a good Samaritan who gave Johnson a ride and a deputy in Lakeland.
After getting high on crystal meth and running out of drugs, Johnson robbed and killed cab driver William Evans in Polk County. He then approached Amy Reid and Darrell Beasley in the parking lot of a restaurant and asked them for a ride to a friend’s house. Johnson asked the pair to pull over in a wooded area so that he could go to the bathroom and then shot and killed Beasley. Reid escaped and called the Polk County Sheriff’s office.
Johnson then started a shoot-out with two deputies who responded to Reid’s call. They later found the body of a third deputy, Theron Burnham, in a drainage ditch. Burnham had been shot three times.