By MICHELLE BEDE and JULIE KELLYThe Associated PressWASHINGTON (AP) — A Texas judge on Tuesday ordered the immediate execution of a convicted killer convicted of killing a Dallas police officer in the line of duty, setting up a potential showdown with the state’s Republican-led legislature.
The U.S. Supreme Court will consider the case in June, and Texas Gov.
Greg Abbott has said the state will fight the death penalty.
Lawyers for Gregory Johnson, 44, argued that he should be executed immediately after his lawyers requested it in the wake of the state Supreme Court ruling in August that reinstated the death sentence for his conviction on capital murder.
Texas has executed four people on death row since then, but none since 2010, when Gov.
Rick Perry reversed the death sentences.
Johnson has repeatedly said he wants to be spared the death-penalty penalty because he has a clean record.
His lawyers, however, have said that Johnson is a dangerous person who has committed multiple murders and is a danger to society.
The Texas Tribune reported that Johnson was one of four men executed this year.
The others were William Glenn Smith, a convicted murderer in Texas, and Richard James “Dirty Harry” Watson, who was convicted of murdering two men in an Alabama gas station.
Johnson was sentenced to death for the November 2015 death of 17-year-old Taylor Lee Williams, who died in a Dallas hospital after a botched execution in 2016.
Johnson’s lawyers argued in a brief filed with the Texas Supreme Court that his conviction violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, which bars the use of the death row as a punishment for certain crimes.
The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the rights of the mentally ill said in September that Texas’s new executions were “cruel” and “inhumane” and said they amounted to cruel and inhuman punishment.
The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that serves the public interest.