MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Connie Johnson’s family is finally finding closure after the man who murdered her was put to death by lethal injection Thursday evening.
“I’m relaxed. I’m more relaxed today than I’ve ever been,” said Connie Johnson’s brother Jackie Duvall, speaking to WREG in his first television interview.
Donnie Johnson suffocated his wife in 1984 by stuffing a plastic bag down her throat. He then left her body in a van in the since-demolished Mall of Memphis parking lot.
“Donnie killed Connie in a rage,” said Duvall.
“She was my baby sister and it took a lot. It really took a lot.”
Donnie Johnson was pronounced dead at 7:37 p.m. Thursday, but his manner of death is controversial for some.
Johnson’s attorney, Kelley Henry, claims Johnson was most likely in excruciating pain even as he lay motionless on the execution gurney.
“I believe that he felt the sensation of being buried alive from the paralytic,” Henry said at a Thursday night press conference.
But Duvall says any pain Donnie Johnson felt was nothing compared to the pain his sister felt when her life was violently wrenched away.
“I figure if the people think that the injection is mean and the electric chair is mean and the gas chamber is mean, why don’t they just take him and put him up against the wall, shoot him in the heart? That’s one bullet,” said Duvall.
Religious figures and even Connie Johnson’s own daughter had asked Gov. Bill Lee to put aside Donnie Johnson’s death sentence.
Although the governor declined, the possibility of clemency was all too real for Duvall in the final days before the execution.
“I would have been fustigated. Very, very,” he said.
Instead, he said he’s now satisfied that a restless chapter in his life has finally been closed.