Sharma Johnson’s friend reflects on her life as convicted killer Willie B. Smith is set for execution

Local News
Christmas Day
December 25 2021 12:00 am

CORRECTION: CBS 42’s Andrea Lindenberg reported Thursday during CBS 42 Morning News that Oct. 21 is the anniversary of Johnson’s death, but the actual date will be Oct. 27.

TRUSSVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s been nearly 30 years since 22-year-old Sharma Ruth Johnson was killed after she was robbed, abducted and then shot to death in Birmingham.

Willie B. Smith III was convicted of that murder back in 1991. On Thursday night, he is set to be executed.

Shelly Luna first met Johnson in the 7th grade and were friends until her death. Luna remembers Sharma for being a sweet and humble girl who had plans to go to college and study interior design. She also remembers Johnson willing to do anything to help anyone in need.

While acknowledging the controversy surrounding whether or not Smith should receive the death penalty, Luna said she’s in support of it due to the inhumane way Johnson died.

Luna is hoping Smith’s death helps brings closure to not only herself, but Sharma’s family as well.

“Thirty years later is 30 years too long,” Luna said. “I remember it like yesterday and a lot has changed in 30 years. I got to grow up and have children. I got to see children graduate college and Sharma didn’t get that.”

The execution of Willie Smith is scheduled to take place at the Atmore Correctional Facility at 6 p.m.

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