Updated: Monday, April 23, 2018 10:25 am EDT
Marcel Emanuel Johnson was scheduled to be executed at 7 pm EDT, on Monday, May 7, 2018, at the State Correctional Institute Rockview in Rockview, Pennsylvania. His execution has been stayed. Twenty-five-year-old Marcel is convicted of murdering 22-year-old Ebony Talley, who was pregnant, and her 4-year-old daughter R.R. on November 25, 2013, in Levittown, Pennsylvania. Marcel has spent the last three years on Pennsylvania’s death row.
Marcel’s execution has been stayed by Bucks County Common Pleas Court in order to allow time for Marcel to complete his appeals. Additionally, on Friday, February 13, 2015, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a moratorium on executions in the state, until he receives and reviews a report on capital punishment in the state, a report which was ordered in 2011. In his announcement, he called the death penalty in Pennsylvania a "flawed system," "ineffective," "unjust," and "expensive." Read more about the announcement here.
Marcel allegedly have a difficult upbringing with chronic and pervasive abuse, neglect, and abandonment. During his trial, he alleged that he had various mental illnesses for which he had been in-and-out of treatment.
On November 25, 2013, Marcel Johnson went to visit Ebony Talley, with whom he was storing some of his belongings, and where he occasionally spent the night. Ebony’s family was there when he arrived. They left around 2:30 pm. Approximately one half hour later, a fire was detected in the apartment.
Firefighters faced difficulties battling the fire due to the thick, black smock. Upon gaining entry into the apartment, they discovered Ebony’s body in the bedroom, lying face down, with numerous stab wounds and a plastic bag wrapped tightly around her head. Small, empty, yellow wax bags were also found laying around the body. Ebony’s daughter, R.R., was found unresponsive, in a pool of blood, in the living room, with multiple stab wounds. She was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead shortly after her arrival.
Another resident of the apartment building noticed that shortly before the fire, a black man had sped out of the parking lot in Ebony’s vehicle. The man hit another vehicle in his hurry to leave.
While responders were still at the fire, Johnson called some of Ebony’s family members. One family member told Johnson about the fire and asked him to got the apartment and find out more information. Johnson refused, saying police had outstanding warrants for his arrest. Another family member later informed Johnson that Ebony and her daughter had died and asked Johnson to turn the vehicle over to the police. Johnson against refused due to the outstanding warrants.
Police were able to track down the car and waited for Johnson to enter the car before arresting him. Yellow bags were found in the car, matching the ones found in Ebony’s apartment. Johnson denied having anything to do with the murders and was initially arrested by police on unrelated drug charges, while the police continued their investigation. While in custody, police received samples of Johnson’s DNA, fingernail scrapings, hair samples, and clothes.
Police charged Johnson is January 2014 with murder. Johnson was sentenced to death for the murder of Ebony and R.R. He was also convicted of third-degree murder for the death of Ebony’s unborn child, arson for lighting the bodies on fire, and possession of an instrument of crime. He received an additional sentence of 32 1/2 to 65 years for those charges.
Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Ebony and R.R.. Please pray for strength for the family of Marcel Johnson. Please pray that Marcel may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.