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Death row killer uses final words on earth to say sorry to victims’ families

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Death row inmate Corey Johnson used his final words on earth to apologise to his victims’ families, telling them: “I am not the man I was”.

The convicted killer said he was at peace with his impending end, having spent 29-years on death row.

Johnson was convicted of seven murders in 1992 and was the 12th federal inmate to be put to death under President Trump.

Mr Johnson committed the slayings during an unprecedented spate of violence in Virginia as part of a drug-trafficking ring.

His crimes included shooting a rival drug dealer, killing a woman who hadn't paid for crack cocaine and shooting a man at close range who he suspected was working with the police.

The 52-year-old was pronounced dead at 11.34pm local time on Thursday, 29 years after being found guilty, following lethal injection with pentobarbital.

He was put to death at the US Department of Justice's execution chamber in Terre Haute, Indiana following a tense legal stand-off.

A judge had initially delayed the deaths of Johnson and fellow inmate Dustin Higgs – due to die later – to give them time to recover from coronavirus.

But the Supreme Court overruled the decision and the death was brought forward.

  • Corey Johnson 'complained' guards forgot jelly doughnuts for his last meal on Death Row

In his final moments on earth, the drug dealer gazed at a room where his family would have been, a journalist at the scene reported.

When asked if he was OK by his executioner, he said yes and said softly towards the family room: “Love you”.

A lethal drug was injected through an IV into his arms, which were strapped down across a gurney. He lifted his arm at the wrist and waved at someone in the family room, according to NBCDFW.

Murmurs could be heard coming from the room, which is usually designated for family. For two minutes, Johnson was speaking to somebody out of sight to the media.

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Then suddenly his eyelids drew down and he became very still, with his mouth wide open. As official word came that he had died, clapping and cheering could be heard from another room.

In a statement released by his lawyers, Johnson took responsibility for his crimes one final time.

“I want to say that I am sorry for my crimes,” Johnson said before he died. “I wanted to say that to the families who were victimised by my actions, and I want these names to be remembered.”

As he listed his seven victims, the convicted murderer said he hoped they “found peace”.

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“Louis Johnson, Anthony Carter, Dorothy Armstrong, Curtis Thorne, Linwood Chiles, Peyton Johnson, Bobby Long. I would have said I was sorry before, but I didn’t know how. I hope you find peace.”

He added: “To my family, I have always loved you, and your love has made me real. On the streets, I was looking for shortcuts, I had some good role models, I was side tracking.

“I was blind and stupid. I am not the same man that I was.”

Then, seemingly jokingly, he said: “The pizza and strawberry shake were wonderful, but I didn’t get the jelly-filled donuts. What’s with that? That should be fixed.”

Johnson then thanked the chaplain and his lawyer, who he says has become his friend.

He ended his last words: “I am okay. I am at peace.”

His death sentence was brought award only minutes after the Supreme Court cleared legal obstacles to halt the execution.

Johnson’s lawyers had argued had an intellectual disability, meaning it was unconstitutional to execute him.

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