““Freedom, Justice and Equality for All, Love of God and Our Fellow Man; Doing All the Good We Can for Our Community," Andrew J. Smitherman (1883-1961). The Purpose of the Buffalo Empire Star is to keep the African-American community informed about past, current and future events to continue onward in the struggle for freedom, justice and equality in the spirt of the underground railroad pioneers.

The execution of Johnnie Roy Baston

Johnnie Roy Baston

When I read  that Ohio had executed  Johnnie  Roy  Baston (1974-2011)  today , I search the internet for more information about him. And I found the ad he placed on a  Prisoner’s Personal Pen Pal WebPages called Prisonerlife.com It described itself as “An open and uncensored forum networking prisoner, prisons and the world.”  And  what an awful feeling I had when I read  Baston’s Pen Pal Ad on this website especially after  the Ohio had executed him today. But what had most sadden me more was  when he mentioned his children. He wrote,

“I am also the father of two eight year olds; Jordan and Asziah (Asia).”  Baston was an accomplished artist from the drawing he submitted along with his ad. I found this information about his artistic talents interesting since it was never mentioned in the news about his execution circulating the internet, blogs and all the major media outlets. This case is very disturbing more so because it happened to a black man involved in a crime barely out his teenage years just turn 20. What’s troubling about his case is the family of the victim he robbed and killed asked that his sentenced be commuted to life in prison without parole, something that the courts and all the folks involved in prosecuting and investigating this case ignored. Why?

The Death Penalty News blog wrote, “Johnnie Batson’s clemency petition points to the case of another defendant who was tried in the same county (Lucas County) for a comparable crime in 1994 (shooting of a store manager at close range during a robbery) and was sentenced to life imprisonment. The petition also pointed to the disproportionate number of death sentences passed against black defendants in Lucas County. Of the 21 death sentences passed there since 1981, in 16 cases the defendant was black, and in four cases white.” Also, great coverage and commentary on the case from Death Watch Star Doll.

Art Work by Johnnie Roy Baston, Credit Prisonerlife.com


One response

  1. bro. Charles

    Capital punishment should only be reserved for certain crimes when the evidence is irrefutable because you can’t correct any errors. Everyone also knows that race plays a part in terms of administering the death penalty law as African Americans disproportionately receive death sentences. Having said that, some perps of certain crimes deserve the death penalty if there are no mitigating circumstances in the case i.e. when children are raped and murdered. Ray Baston was concerned about how his children will be affected after his execution. They will need a lot of counseling, love and support. It is interesting to note that Ray Baston was an adopted child. How did this effect his life skills decision making prior to getting involved with the criminal justice system? No one can argue against more love and life skills mentoring for at-risk youth!

    March 11, 2011 at 9:59 pm

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