Inmate Commits Suicide on Day of His Scheduled Execution

Michael Johnson, 29, who was scheduled to be executed Thursday evening committed suicide early Thursday morning, prison officials said.

Johnson was scheduled to be die for the September 10, 1995 robbery and murder of 27-year-old Jeff Wetterman, who was working at his parents’ Lorena convenience store and had been married for just three weeks.

Prison officials said guards found Johnson unresponsive in this cell at bout 2:40 a.m. Thursday at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston.

According to Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesperson, Johnson used some sort of metal blade or razor to cut his right jugular vein and an artery inside his right elbow.

Johnson was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead at 3:40 a.m.

Death Row inmates are housed in single-person cells.

Inmates facing execution are placed on "death watch" and checked by prison staff every 15 minutes.

The last check on Johnson, according to the TDJC, was at 2:30 a.m..

He reportedly was talking with prison staff, and had just eaten his breakfast.

The TDJC reports that Johnson didn’t indicate he was contemplating suicide and didn’t leave a note.

Death-row suicides aren't unprecedented in Texas, but Johnson's
was the closest to the scheduled execution.

The Office of the Inspector General is investigating the incident.

Johnson would have been the 22nd inmate to be executed in Texas this year.

He was 18 when he and David Vest, who was then 17, pulled into the convenience store off Interstate 35 to put gas in a Cadillac they had stolen.

Prosecutors said Johnson shot Wetterman in the face with a 9 mm handgun in order to steal $24 worth of gas.

Wetterman and Vest drove on to Corpus Christi and then to Dallas, selling the gun along the way to a truck driver for $35.

They were arrested three days later in Dallas.

Johnson was involved with other teens in what authorities say was a stolen car ring near Dallas when he was arrested for the slaying.

Johnson has insisted that companion David Vest shot Wetterman.

But a friend testified Johnson told him he shot Wetterman after Vest said, "Shoot!"

Vest pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and testified against Johnson.

Vest served the full eight years of his sentence and was released in 2003.

After his conviction, Johnson turned around in the Waco courtroom and yelled obscenities.