OKLAHOMA executes convicted killer

Wednesday, May 30th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) _ A man whose talk of a murder-for-hire helped seal his conviction had nothing to say before being put to death for the crime.

When asked Tuesday night if he had a last statement, Vincent Allen Johnson stared at the ceiling and said only, ``No sir, I don't.'' The 42-year-old was dead two minutes later from a heart-arresting dose of potassium chloride.

Johnson, a two-time killer, received the death sentence for shooting and killing Shirley Mooneyham, 44, in 1991 as she made coffee at her rural Pittsburg County home.

He fired with a gun in each hand, hitting her six times.

Johnson stared into the bright sterile lights of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary death chamber as the first of three execution drugs began to flow. He closed his eyes, took several deep breaths and appeared to snore.

His eyes opened slightly just before he was pronounced dead at 9:07 p.m.

A man witnessing the execution on Johnson's behalf waved at the still body and said, ``Bye.''

None of Mooneyham's family came to the prison to see him die.

Prosecutors alleged that Johnson was recruited to kill by her estranged common-law husband, Ted Holt, and John Crain, with whom Johnson and his wife lived at the time.

Holt was acquitted on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Prosecutors dropped the same charges against Crain.

Prosecutors alleged the men wanted Mooneyham dead because she possessed audio tapes that could have implicated them in a crime.

The case against Johnson included three confessions, including one secretly taped by an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation informant. On one tape, Johnson complained he was never paid the $100,000 allegedly promised him.

Johnson's defense contended he took blame for the murder because Crain had threatened him and his family.

Robin Jackson, who considered Mooneyham her mentor and role model at age 14, found the woman's body. She said Johnson's act left her with nightmares and took away her heroine.

``Evil is evil,'' Jackson wrote in a letter before the execution. ``Let him plead mercy with his maker.''

It wasn't the first time Johnson had killed.

He received a 15-year prison term for manslaughter in 1979 for his guilty plea in the slaying of his 22-year-old Midwest City roommate, Larry Briggs. Briggs' body was found in an Oklahoma County ditch.