GRADY — The daughter and son of a woman the state says was killed by Stacey Eugene Johnson 22 years ago disagreed Thursday on whether Johnson should be put to death.

GRADY — The daughter and son of a woman the state says was killed by Stacey Eugene Johnson 22 years ago disagreed Thursday on whether Johnson should be put to death.


The two children of Carol Heath of De Queen addressed the Arkansas Parole Board at its office in Little Rock on Thursday afternoon. Earlier in the day, the board met at the state Department of Correction’s Varner Unit in southeastern Arkansas, where Johnson and his attorney argued that Johnson is innocent.


The board said it would make a recommendation to the governor by Tuesday.


Johnson, 45, has been sentenced to die in Heath’s April 1993 killing. Gov. Asa Hutchinson recently set a Nov. 3 execution date for Johnson, as well as execution dates for seven other condemned inmates, but a judge has put the executions on hold because of a pending lawsuit. If carried out, the executions would be the first in Arkansas in a decade.


Ashley Heath, daughter of Carol Heath, who previously supported the death penalty for Johnson, told the Parole Board on Thursday she has forgiven him. She asked the board to recommend that his sentence be commuted to life without parole.


"I feel that there is no justice in the death penalty," Heath said.


Carol Heath was beaten and strangled and had her throat slit in her home while Ashley Heath, then 6, and son Jonathan Palmer, then 2, were at home. Ashley Heath told the board that every time Johnson’s case makes the news, she is forced to re-live her mother’s murder.


Heath said she has post-traumatic stress disorder and high anxiety resulting from her mother’s killing.


"I am tired of re-living it," she said. "I am ready to put it behind me and move on with my life."


Palmer told the board, "I have to disagree with my sister about prolonging his life and ending the execution date for him. I can’t find that I can ever truly be at peace if he continues to live and have the luxury of life itself."


He said that as long as Johnson is alive he is being fed, given medical care and otherwise taken care of.


"My mother’s not here. She doesn’t have that," he said.


Also speaking against clemency was Melissa Cassidy, sister of Carol Heath. She said her father died with a broken heart because he did not see justice served for his daughter’s murder, and that she and her mother have not been the same since the killing.


"Stacey Johnson does not deserve to go on living," she said.


During the hearing at the Varner Unit, Jeff Rosenzweig, Johnson’s attorney, told the board his client is innocent.


"It’s improper and immoral to execute someone who is innocent," Rosenzweig said. "The trial was flawed."


Johnson was tried twice. Rosenzweig said that during the first trial, the only witness to the killing, Ashley Heath, was determined to be incompetent to testify.


After sessions with a therapist, the girl was allowed to testify at the second trial, but Rosenzweig said Johnson’s attorneys at that trial did not have access to the records of the therapist, which were sealed.


He also said Johnson’s DNA should be tested again.


Johnson told the board, "If DNA testing had been done, I wouldn’t be here today. There was a lot of evidence to show that I didn’t do it, but it was ignored."


"No one wants to listen to the evidence," Johnson said. "I want to go back to court and get a fair and impartial trial."


Assistant Attorney General Pamela Rumpz said in rebuttal during the Little Rock hearing that Ashley Heath was found incompetent to testify at the first trial because she would not go into the courtroom to testify about her competence, not because of any evidence presented to a judge.


Rumpz also said a judge declined to order new DNA tests because the DNA evidence had already been re-tested for Johnson’s second trial. She said the second set of tests showed the odds that DNA from two items of evidence, hairs and a cigarette butt, came from anyone other than Johnson were 1 in 750 million and 1 in 28 million, respectively.


"Mr. Johnson had in effect got what he asked for. He got a re-testing, albeit in connection with his second trial instead of his post-conviction case," Rumpz said.


During the hearing at the Varner Unit, Johnson also defended his record of 140 disciplinary actions since he has been locked up.


"When I was committed for a crime I didn’t commit, I was angry, mad, and didn’t want to be there. There were a lot of fights, a lot of issues," he said.


On Oct. 9, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen issued a temporary restraining order barring the state from carrying out any of the eight scheduled executions until a lawsuit challenging the state’s lethal-injection law is resolved. The plaintiffs in the suit are the eight condemned inmates and one other who has been sentenced to die but does not have a scheduled execution date.