State of Missouri v. Timothy Johnston

Supreme Court Case Number: 74064 (May 25, 1997)

Timothy L. Johnston was executed at 12:07 a.m., August 31, 2005

JohnstonTCase Facts: At 2:28 a.m. on June 30, 1989, paramedics arrived at the home of Timothy and Nancy Johnston  in response to a 911 call, seeking assistance for a “severe sick case.” The 911 operator also dispatched  a police officer with the St. Louis Police Department to the residence. The ambulance carrying the  paramedics and the police arrived at the Johnston residence at the same time. A male voice from  inside the house directed these emergency personnel to “hurry up, inside. She is in here. She needs  help.” The officer and paramedics stepped over bloodstains on both the sidewalks and front porch.

Just inside the doorway, they found Timothy Johnston bent over a woman lying on the floor,  her otherwise nude upper body draped with a shirt, her face and torso horribly injured, swollen and  bloody. A six-inch gash ran across her forehead to the socket of her right eye. Someone had yanked  Large patches of hair from her head. She was not breathing. The police had to remove a very  agitated Timothy Johnston before paramedics could assess the woman’s condition.

Paramedics declared Ms. Johnston dead at the scene. An autopsy performed later that morning  revealed extensive, blunt-trauma injuries over much of her upper body; a broken nose; bruised and  torn lips; scrapes to the back of her head and face; separation of a portion of her scalp from the skull; a broken right collarbone; a four-inch tear in her liver; bruising and tearing in the heart and  spleen; fractures in nearly all of her ribs and a variety a relatively “minor”scrapes and bruises over  much of her body. The medical examiner determined the cause of death as the collapse of the
support structure around her heart and lungs, rendering those organs unable to function because  they could not bear the weight of the muscle, tissue and bone pressing on them. Bleeding under the  skin confirmed that the victim had remained alive through most of the beating.

When questioned, Johnston claimed a motorcycle gang that wanted “to get back at him”  had killed his wife, leaving her body for him to discover at their home. Further investigation revealed  three witnesses who identified Johnston as the individual they observed severely beating, kicking, stomping and dragging a woman on the sidewalk and porch earlier in the evening. Johnston eventually  confessed to the murder, saying he and his wife had been at a Local bar when they got into an  argument that continued to when they went home.

Missouri Supreme Court opinion.

Legal Chronology

06/30 – Timothy Johnston murders Nancy Johnston in St.Louis, Missouri.
07/24 – Johnston is charged by indictment with First Degree Murder and Armed Criminal Action.

05/16 – The jury returns a verdict of guilty of Murder 1st Degree and Armed Criminal Action.
05/18 – The jury returns a death sentence as punishment for First Degree Murder and life imprisonment for Armed Criminal Action.
07/26 – The St.Louis City Circuit Court sentences Johnston to death for the First Degree Murder conviction and Life imprisonment for the Armed Criminal Action conviction.

01/02 – Johnston files a motion for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court of St.Louis City.

09/30 – The Circuit Court denies post-conviction relief.

11/25 – The Missouri Supreme Court affirms Johnston’s conviction and sentence and the denial of post-conviction relief. State v. Johnston, 957 S.W.2d 734 (Mo.banc 1997)

03/02 – The United States Supreme Court denies certiorari review. Johnston v. Missouri, 522 U.S.5O(1998).
08/14 – Johnston files a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

11/02 – The District Court denies the petition for writ of habeas corpus. Johnston v. Bowersox, 119 F.Supp. 2d 971 (E.D.Mo.2000).

05/01 – The Court of Appeals affirms the deniaL of habeas relief. Johnston v.Luebbers, 288 F.3d 1048 (8th Cir. 2002).

01/21 – The Supreme Court declines certiorari review. Johnston v. Roper, 537 U.S. 1166 (2003).
05/12 – The State requests the Missouri Supreme Court to set an execution date.

08/01 – The Missouri Supreme Court sets Johnston’s execution date of August 31, 2005.