NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A death row inmate who shot and killed Bristol Tennessee Police Officer Mark Vance has been given a stay of execution.
Nickolus Johnson, 35, was scheduled to die April 22. Johnson was granted post-conviction relief last month, according to the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts.
Johnson has been on death row since 2007.
In sentencing Johnson to death, the jury found two aggravating circumstances. Johnson had previously been convicted of a felony, and he should have known Vance was a police officer.
The shooting occurred when Vance responded to a domestic violence call in November of 2004 at the home of Johnson’s girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time. Upon entering the residence, Vance was shot in the face at close range with a pistol.
Vance died on the way to the hospital.
Johnson was convicted of first-degree murder in 2006. The Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld Johnson’s conviction in 2012.
Johnson’s appeal mainly argued that prosecutors failed to present enough evidence during the trial’s guilt phase to support a conviction.
The Sullivan County District Attorney’s Office established an award in Vance’s honor. The award is given to a law enforcement official in Sullivan County who excels in the area of domestic violence.
The last inmate executed in the state was Cecil Johnson on Dec. 2, 2009.
There are 76 inmates on Tennessee’s death row, including one woman.