The Supreme Court of Missouri last week finalized the execution date for a 45-year-old man sentenced to death for sexually assaulting and murdering a 6-year-old girl in 2002 by bashing her head in with a brick.
In a “per curiam” order from all seven justices, the court declared that Johnny A. Johnson will be put to death on Aug.1, 2023 for the horrific death of young Cassandra “Casey” Williamson. The court’s order came after the state filed a motion in November 2022 seeking to have Johnson’s death formally placed on the calendar after his numerous appeal attempts failed.
A jury in 2005 convicted Johnson on charges of first-degree murder, armed criminal action, kidnapping, and attempted forcible rape. Jurors recommended a sentence of death on the murder charge and life without parole on the remaining charges, which the presiding judge accepted.
According to court documents, Casey lived with her mom and siblings at her grandfather’s house on Benton Street in Valley Park, about 20 miles west of St. Louis. Her father was staying across the street with another couple so he could remain close to his children. That couple also allowed Johnson, then 24, to stay at the house for a few nights.
On the night of July 25, 2002, Casey also stayed at the residence so she could be with her father.
On the morning of July 26, 2002, Johnson woke up on the living room couch with Casey standing in the room watching television. Johnson then decided “this was his best opportunity to have sex with her,” former Justice William Ray Price, Jr. wrote in a 2006 ruling in the case.
“He had decided that to avoid being caught for sexually assaulting her, he would kill her after having sex with her,” Price wrote. “Johnson asked Casey if she wanted to go to the glass factory to play games and have fun. Casey said she would go with him and they left. When they came to the woods leading to the glass factory, they walked along one of the paths to a sunken pit with brick and concrete walls more than 6 feet high. Casey and Johnson crawled through a small tunnel and dropped into the pit.”
Once in the pit, Johnson attempted to sexually assault Casey, but the girl “started screaming, kicking, and pushing” at him, even leaving scratch marks across his chest. As he grew more frustrated, Johnson decided to simply kill Casey, Justice Price wrote.
He grabbed a brick and hit Casey in the head with it at least six times, causing bleeding and bruising. She was not yet dead or knocked unconscious and started to run around the pit. Johnson hit her with the brick again. She fell to her knees and tried to crawl away from Johnson. He struck her with the brick again, eventually knocking her to the ground and fracturing the right side of her skull. Because she was still moving, Johnson then lifted a basketball-sized boulder and brought it down on the back left side of Casey’s head and neck, causing multiple skull fractures. Casey inhaled and exhaled “really fast” and then stopped breathing.
A private citizen who found Casey’s body told investigators that there was “a piece of concrete that probably weighed a hundred pounds” in the place where Casey’s head would have been.
Johnson was picked up by police a few hours later and after initially claiming Casey was hit in the head by a falling rock. He eventually provided a full confession.
At trial, then-Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch told the jury that Johnson “bricked this little girl to death,” the St. Louis-Dispatch reported. Johnson’s attorneys reportedly argued that he suffered from schizophrenia and sought a sentence of life in prison, but jurors were not swayed and recommended death.
So far, the state of Missouri has executed two people in 2023: Convicted murderer Amber McLaughlin, the first-ever openly transgender person to on death row, and Leonard Taylor, who stabbed his girlfriend and her three children to death in 2004.
Read the court’s order and the warrant for Johnson’s execution, below.
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Johnny A. Johnson set to be executed for murder of girl, 6
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