State of Missouri v. Stephen K. Johns

679 S.W.2d 253 (Mo.Banc 1984)

Stephen K. Johns was executed on October 24, 2001.

Johns_Stephen_2Case Facts: On the evening of February 18, 1982, an Onyx Gas Station in the City of St. Louis was robbed of approximately $248. A customer who stopped at the station shortly before 8 p.m. discovered the body of the seventeen year old attendant lying face down in a storage room with bullet wounds in the back of his head. The medical examiner who performed the autopsy testified that she found three bullet holes-all within one inch of each other- behind the victim’s right ear. One of the bullets has been fired from a distance of less than six inches from the victims head. The autopsy also revealed a bruise on top of the victims head.

During the weeks proceeding the murder, Johns had discussed his plan for robbing the Onyx station with Linda Klund and David Smith, two acquaintances. Klund drove Johns and a second man, Robert Shawn Wishon, to the station. She parked the car a short distance from the station and waited while Johns and Wishon went in. When they returned, she followed an escape route planned earlier by Johns. After disposing of the money bag, Klund dropped off Wishon and then Johns. Johns gave her $50 and asked her to take a bag containing the gun and bullets so he would not have it in case he was picked up.

Johns was arrested on February 19. He was convicted of capital murder in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis and the jury imposed the death sentence.

Stephen Johns’ Last Statement: “Missouri and its agents have killed innocent men in the past. I guess they think it just part of doing business. I have, over the past many years, heard many ‘last words’ of those killed by the State and it’s citizens. They range from “I’m sorry” to “kiss my fat ass.” If the State and its citizens kill me, I would say that I do not forgive those whose lies led to my conviction. I do not forgive the jurists who exercised their considerable intellect to deny me justified legal redress. I do not forgive those State functionaries, who act as ‘good Germans’ to kill me. I am innocent, but was not given the tools at trial, or on appeal, to make my innocence into a legal reality.” — (signed) Stephen Johns

Legal Chronology:

02/18 – Steve Johns and Robert Wishon shoot and kill Donald Voepel during the robbery of a gas station in St. Louis, Missouri
03/04 – Johns is charged by indictment for Capital Murder.
10/18 – Johns’ trial in the Circuit Court of St. Louis City begins.
10/22 – The jury recommends Johns be sentenced to death.

01/07 – The Circuit Court of St. Louis City sentences Johns to death. That same day Johns files a notice of appeal.

10/09 – The Missouri Supreme Court affirms Johns’ conviction and sentence.

03/04 – The United States Supreme Court denies certiorari review.
03/20 – Johns files a motion for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis

11/20 – The Circuit Court denies the motion for post-conviction relief.

11/03 – The Missouri Court of Appeals affirms the denial of post-conviction relief.

06/06 – The U. S. Supreme Court denies certiorari review.
06/23 – Johns files a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the U.S.District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

07/10 – The U.S. District Court denies the petition for the writ of habeas corpus.

02/08 – The Eighth U.S. Court of Appeals affirms the denial of relief in the previous ruling of the U.S. District Court
12/04 – The U.S. Supreme Court declines discretionary review.
12/14 – The State requests an execution date from the Missouri Supreme Court.

09/24 – The Missouri Supreme Court sets October 24, 2001, as Johns’ execution date.