Condemned Kentucky Inmate Seeks New Trial

Jul 24, 2014

A death row inmate from eastern Kentucky has asked a federal judge to throw out his conviction and sentence, saying a judge erred in accepting his guilty plea.

In a petition filed in federal court in Lexington, 47-year-old Donald Herb Johnson says a judge in Floyd County didn't recount all the rights he'd be giving up by admitting to stabbing Helen Madden to death on Oct. 30, 1989. Johnson also claims he may not have been competent at the time to enter the plea.

Credit Mark D. Siegel

Madden was attacked at the Bright and Clean Laundry in Hazard where she worked. Johnson entered the guilty plea on Oct. 1, 1997.

Kentucky is currently under a court order suspending all executions in the state.