WOMAN'S killer prepares to die

Tuesday, May 29th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) _ A man who shot a Pittsburg County woman six times in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme prepared to face his own executioner Tuesday.

The state readied the death chamber for Vincent Allen Johnson, a two-time killer who was scheduled to die by drug injection in the murder of Shirley Mooneyham, 44, more than 10 years ago.

Johnson's last-ditch attempts at a reprieve failed before the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday.

``We fully expect to carry this execution out as scheduled on Tuesday at 9 p.m.,'' said Seth Branham, assistant attorney general.

Prosecutors alleged the Kinta man killed Mooneyham at the request of 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.

Johnson went to Mooneyham's residence on Feb. 8, 1991. She was making coffee when he grabbed a gun from his pocket and a pistol that Mooneyham had placed on the kitchen table and opened fire with both weapons. Mooneyham was shot six times in the head and chest.

Friends and family described Mooneyham as someone always willing to lend a hand to people in need. Robin Jackson said Mooneyham took her in when she was 14 ``and gave me morals and made me the strong person I am today.''

Jackson described her horror upon finding Mooneyham dead in a pool of blood.

``This man should not only get the death by lethal injection, he should get the same, horrible, miserable death my aunt got,'' she said in a letter to prosecutors. ``I want this execution to continue as scheduled so that I and many other friends and family members can get on with our lives.''

Prosecutors alleged that Holt and Crain wanted Mooneyham dead because she possessed audio tapes that could implicate them in criminal activity.

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

Johnson maintained he had nothing to do with the killing. His defense argued during his trial that he took blame for the murder because Crain had threatened him and his family.

Johnson received a 15-year prison term for manslaughter in 1979 for his guilty plea in the killing of his Midwest City roommate, said Branham, who had no further details.

Several people were expected to witness the execution at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary on Johnson's behalf. Mooneyham's family did not plan to attend.

Johnson asked for a final meal of fish, hushpuppies, chips, dip, french fries, a strawberry malt, strawberry shortcake with whipped cream and a 7-Up.