May 16, 2019
Death Row Inmate Don Johnson Declines His Last Meal, Asks That It Be Donated To The Homeless Instead

Don Johnson is scheduled to be put to death by the state of Tennessee on Thursday, but the condemned inmate will not be getting the customary last meal -- by his own choice.

As Fox News reported, Johnson has decided to forgo the special last meal offered to prisoners before their execution, and has asked the state's Department of Corrections to instead give it to the needy. Johnson's last meal will come from the normal menu given to other inmates at the Riverbed Maximum Security Institution, while his special meal will be on its way to the homeless.

Johnson told public defender Kelley Henry that he was inspired by friend Philip Workman, who had asked that instead of a last meal, the prison deliver a vegetarian pizza to a homeless person. As FOX 17 reported, that request was never carried out, but Johnson hoped that he could use his final meal to help others.

"Mr. Johnson realizes that his $20 allotment will not feed many homeless people," Henry told FOX 17. "His request is that those who have supported him provide a meal to a homeless person."

The 68-year-old Johnson is facing a lethal injection for the 1984 killing of his wife, Connie Johnson, who was suffocated to death. As The Associated Press reported, Johnson had blamed the killing on a work-release inmate who admitted to investigators that he helped dispose of the woman's body.

Johnson has spent half of his life on death row after being convicted, and had three previous execution dates canceled as he lodged appeals -- including a court challenge to the state's lethal injection protocol by claiming that the three-drug mixture caused a long and painful death. Some religious leaders in the state have also called on Governor Bill Lee to spare Johnson.

It does not appear that there will be any last-minute pardon for Johnson. Governor Lee said he had considered granting clemency, but decided against it. Johnson's lawyer said there were no plans for last-minute legal challenges.

Attorneys representing Johnson have made public statements to his son and stepdaughter -- as well as to members of Connie Johnson's family -- asking for their forgiveness.

"I am truly sorry and if I knew something that I could do to ease your pain I would gladly do it," the death row inmate said in the statement.

It was not clear if officials planned to follow through on Don Johnson's request that his last meal be given to the homeless.