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April, 2019

Cynthia Vaughn Asks for Mercy for the Man Convicted of Killing Her Mother

The Tennessean recently published an op-ed by Cynthia Vaughn, in which she asks that her stepfather, Don Johnson, be spared the death penalty on May 16th. Don was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1984 murder of Cynthia’s mother, Connie, when Cynthia was only seven years old. For most of her life, Cynthia wanted to see Don executed.

In the op-ed, Cynthia shares her painful journey from fervently supporting Don’s execution to advocating for his clemency. She reflects on the freedom that she experienced in forgiving him as well as her fears about the additional trauma his execution will likely inflict on her.

She writes, “After being trapped in the death penalty process for most of my life and finally receiving some peace, I now face more trauma and loss. Over these past few years, Don has become one of my last connections to my mother, and his execution will not feel like justice to me. It will feel like losing my mother all over again. I want to save his life.”

Please consider joining with Cynthia in asking Governor Lee to spare Don Johnson. You can take action and learn more about this incredible story here. 

TAKE ACTION: Contact Governor Lee and Urge Clemency for Don Johnson

Don Johnson is scheduled to be executed by the state of Tennessee on May 16, 2019, for the 1984 murder of his wife, Connie, in Memphis. Connie’s daughter, Cynthia, is a frequent speaker for TADP’s Sharing Our Stories program and is asking Governor Lee to spare Don’s life. Over the past thirty-five years, Don has embraced the Christian faith and become a model inmate. He is a force for good on death row and shares his faith with others, in prison, in the community, and around the world. 

Don profoundly hurt Cynthia, his stepdaughter, by taking her mother’s life when Cynthia was only seven years old. For years, Cynthia had hoped for Don’s execution, but, in 2012, all that changed. She visited Don on death row to tell him how much he had hurt her and to unleash her full anger. Her intent for the visit was to “let him have it,” and then leave.

And though Cynthia boiled over with rage at Don, after she had the opportunity to tell him all the things that she needed to say, she heard a voice speak to her, “Let it go.”  In that moment, Cynthia forgave Don and found that with forgiveness, came her own freedom. Cynthia asks that Governor Lee do the same and spare Don’s life. 

Today Governor Lee received Don’s official request for a commutation of his death sentence.

Please visit Don Johnson’s clemency website and take action now on his behalf. 


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