- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) - A man convicted of killing an East Tennessee police office is seeking a new trial.

The Bristol Herald-Courier (https://bit.ly/1P51oKf ) reports that lawyers for 36-year-old Nikolas Johnson are petitioning for post-conviction relief, arguing that his constitutional rights were violated.

Johnson was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 2007 in the killing of Bristol police officer Mark Vance, who was shot in the face in 2004 while responding to a domestic call.

The 155-page petition filed with Sullivan County court argues that Johnson’s original attorneys were incompetent, his jury was racist, that there was prosecutorial misconduct and that lethal injection is unconstitutional.

It also argued that he should be exempt from the death penalty because he suffers from mental illness. The petition states previous attorneys did not present evidence from mental health experts and did not continue to evaluate Johnson’s mental health after he was found competent.

“Due to his severe mental illnesses, Mr. Johnson suffers diminished capacities that are substantially similar to the diminished capacities of intellectually disabled defendants,” the petition stated. “Accordingly, Mr. Johnson should be categorically exempt from the death penalty.”

A hearing in the case was set for June 23.


Information from: Bristol Herald Courier, https://www.bristolnews.com

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