"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Doubts Remain About Georgia Death Row Inmate's Guilt: Lawyer

Marcus Ray Johnson
Marcus Ray Johnson
A lawyer for a Georgia death row inmate says his client shouldn't be executed this week because doubts remain about his guilt.

Marcus Ray Johnson is set for execution Thursday. 

He was convicted in April 1998 in the March 1994 rape and murder of Angela Sizemore.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles plans to hold a clemency hearing for Johnson on Wednesday.

Brian Kammer, an attorney for Johnson, has asked the board to commute Johnson's sentence or to at least delay his execution for 90 days to allow for additional DNA testing that he says could prove his client didn't kill Sizemore.

Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards, who was a prosecutor in the case, said the defense theories have been discredited and there is no doubt about Johnson's guilt.

Source: Associated Press, November 17, 2015

Condemned Georgia man asks for six-pack with last meal; prison says no

Marcus Ray Johnson, scheduled to die by lethal injection Thursday evening, asked for a 6-pack of beer with his last meal, but prison officials turned him down.

Georgia Department of Corrections officials disclosed Johnson's request on Tuesday. With beer out of the question, Johnson said he just wants the same dinner that everyone else on Death Row will be served that night: baked fish and cheese grits, officials said.

Also on Tuesday, Johnson's lawyer pressed his claims that Georgia was about to execute an innocent man, while the state's attorney argued it's time for justice for the woman Johnson killed 21 years ago.

Deputy Attorney General Beth Burton wrote Tuesday in response to a filing by Johnson's lawyer that the condemned man "has been repeatedly given avenues and opportunities to attempt to present evidence to support his (innocence) claim. He has repeatedly failed.

"The miscarriage of justice in this case would be if the victim's 26-year-old daughter, who was 5 at the time of her mother's murder, is not allowed closure in this case," Burton wrote.

Johnson, 50, is scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m. Thursday for the 1994 murder of Angela Sizemore, a woman he met in an Albany bar. The State Board of Pardons and Paroles will consider his plea for mercy on Wednesday. Johnson stands to be the 4th person Georgia has put to death this year.

He admitted to police that he and the 35-year-old woman had sex in a field near the Albany bar where they met just after midnight March 24, 1994. But Johnson said he left her alive and crying, having punched her in the nose because she insisted on cuddling.

Sizemore's body was found several hours later inside her SUV, which had been moved across town from where she had parked it before going into the bar, Fundamentals. She was stabbed 41 times.

Johnson's lawyer repeated in court filings on Tuesday what he has argued for several years that Johnson is innocent and was convicted on sketchy evidence. Attorney Brian Kammer said all prosecutors had was Johnson's admission that he had engaged in consensual sex with Sizemore; the physical evidence of those relations; and witnesses who said they saw him near her abandoned SUV.

Kammer said investigators did not find Sizemore's blood on the knife police said was used to stab her or on the tree branch used to brutalize her. He also said the witnesses were inconsistent about the man they saw early that morning. There were no fingerprints or DNA found in her SUV, which police suspected he drove to the the apartment complex where it was discovered.

The descriptions were of a man "with or without facial hair, wearing sneakers, or boots, a black top; or maybe a jacket, boots and a flat wedding band style ring; or a ring with a diamond on it or a ring with a green stone on it," Kammer wrote in a filing on Tuesday.

"These appalling facts, along with helpful expert testimony, are now available and show that Mr. Johnson's conviction and death sentence rest on a foundation made of sand," Kammer wrote.

Burton said an appellate court had already heard all that and found his "evidence of actual innocence was not credible."

She wrote that Johnson continues to say he's innocent even though "the facts of his guilt were and remain overwhelming."

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 17, 2015

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