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Judge orders stay of execution

Brian Kammer, an attorney with the Georgia Resource Center and the defense attorney for Marcus Ray Johnson, explains to Chief Superior Court Judge Willie Lockette why there needs to be a stay ofJohnson's execution scheduled for tonight.

Brian Kammer, an attorney with the Georgia Resource Center and the defense attorney for Marcus Ray Johnson, explains to Chief Superior Court Judge Willie Lockette why there needs to be a stay ofJohnson's execution scheduled for tonight.

ALBANY — When Chief Dougherty Superior Court Judge Willie Lockette announced Tuesday that he was ordering a stay of execution for Marcus Ray Johnson, an audible gasp arose from the family of the the woman Johnson was convicted of killing, Angela Sizemore.

Tears flowed from Sizemore’s daughter, who was consoled by relatives.

“Let me be clear. This does not set him free. It does not overturn his conviction. It does not vacate his death sentence,” Lockette said following his decision Tuesday.

What it does do is delay Johnson’s execution — scheduled for 7 p.m. today — until after an evidentiary hearing can be held in February 2012 to determine whether evidence used to convict Johnson in 1998 can be tested using modern forensic technology.

But even the order from the superior court judge may not be enough to postpone Johnson’s execution.

Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards on Tuesday filed an emergency appeal with the Georgia Supreme Court, asking that the court immediately consider overturning Lockette’s stay. If the high court overrules Lockette, the execution would be back on.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Heather Lanier said late Tuesday that an assistant district attorney had been dispatched with the appeal to Atlanta Tuesday night so that it could be delivered by hand first thing this morning.

Officials with the Supreme Court told the Herald Tuesday to expect word from the court sometime today.

Lanier said she and Edwards would be leaving for Jackson around 1 p.m. unless there was word from the court earlier upholding Lockette’s decision.

During his attempt to convince Lockette to deny Johnson’s motion for a stay of execution, Edwards rehashed the evidence of the case, pointing to the testimony of four people who said they saw Johnson in the area near where Sizemore’s body was found and to physical evidence, such as blood that was found on Johnson’s jacket.

“Your honor, there is overwhelming evidence that Marcus Johnson committed this murder,” Edwards said. “This man was 100 percent guilty then and is 100 percent guilty now.”

Brian Kammer, one of three attorneys who are trying to get Johnson a new trial, argued that there was evidence that, if tested using modern science, would likely cause a jury to acquit Johnson.

“If this case happened today, Mr. Johnson likely wouldn’t have been the one prosecuted,” Kammer said. “It is not right to allow someone to be executed when evidence exists that could be tested.”

Kammer worked to drill holes in the state’s assertion that one man raped, tortured and killed Sizemore by targeting evidence that either wasn’t tested for DNA or was tested using outdated and less-thorough methods.

Pointing specifically to the branch Edwards told jurors during the trial was used to mutilate and impale Sizemore, Kammer said that Edwards’ contention that the branch had fecal matter and physical evidence on it wasn’t true.

“The branch is arguably the most famous piece of evidence in this entire case,” Kammer said. “There was no fecal matter on that branch. There was nothing on that branch but branch.”

Comments

Somebody 3 years, 1 month ago

More tax dollars going to waste! New evidence? After 17 years, that evidence could be tainted. He was already found guilty, and is a waste of time and taxpayers money having to have 100 trials to convict a person who knows he is guilty.

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KaosinAlbany 3 years, 1 month ago

This is ridiculous! Another reason to vote out Lockette. After 17 years, you mean to tell me APD didn't know the additional evidence was there and they just turned it over to the court yesterday? Doesn't make much sense, but then again this town doesn't use common sense anyway. Plus Johnson admitted to killing her.

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Keeping_It_Real 3 years, 1 month ago

I wouldn't have expected anything different from Judge Lockette! He is part of the reason we have so much crime in Albany. He's always sending these criminals back out on the street. Before it's all said and done if Lockette has anything to do with it, Johnson will end up being set free so he can go out and savagely murder another unsuspecting victim. Back in the old west if a person was guilty of murder, they sentenced him to hang the next day. No time for all these foolish delays and appeals.

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TD31707 3 years, 1 month ago

If he does get released for some stupid reason, let's hope he comes back here so we can give him a good ol' "welcome back" party. That party may not be for his best interests though. I'd say karma may strike back!

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KaosinAlbany 3 years, 1 month ago

You go, Greg Edwards!! I think it should be brought to the Supreme Court of GA. I wouldn't trust these judges here either. I hate that more of our tax dollars are being spent on this sorry sack of nothing but I would rather see this appealed before the Supreme Court rather than granting this person a new trial, which I am sure is what will happen if this isn't stopped.

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supersquawker 3 years, 1 month ago

White man innocent, black man guilty. It's a no-brainor

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Margie 3 years, 1 month ago

Judge Lockette has to act according to his oath of office and the laws of the United States Constitution. You really don't know the Judge, and you also don't know what he may struggle with when he has to sentence, based on "man's law. He is a Christian, and family man, and there very well could be conflict with his spiritual belief and his job as a judge. Sometimes we forgot, there is "man" law, and man's law is in serious conflict with God's law. The coommandment, God's law that says, "Thou Shalt Not Killed," is very clear. We shall should not kill another, whether by brutality or lethal legal doings, according to the Word of God. For judges and people to are carrying out the executions, we don't know what they go through, but yet they do they job because that is what they do, and it is the law. But, when Jesus returns, and those who killed another face him, what will they say. I am sympathy for the Sizemore family, and it was evil of Johnson if he killed the beautiful young woman, and he should be off the streets. But, my point in all this is, Judge Lockette has to follow the laws of the land, and has to separate his personal and spirtual feelings from it all. Law suits...... Furthermore, don't be angry with Judge Lockette. He wasn't born when the Consitution was drafted, and probably had no part in all the others legal ramifications that allows Johnson to be put on death row for 17 years, and then file appeals when the time nears for his execution. But, our country's fathers and law markers thought it was the right thing to do. Even though so many truly innocent people over the many, many years died. But, again, who is at blame? Not Judge Lockette.

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rock 3 years, 1 month ago

Where is Angela Sizemore's stay? Oh! She is dead and this scumbag gets a stay. The Albany Judges strike again. I guess it is okay to kill, rape and comitt mayhem, because the judges in Albany are on the side of the perps.

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criminaljusticestudent2011 3 years, 1 month ago

ok serious everyone is suppose to be treated equally but lets be real troy davis black man is kill leatheal injection this weirdo is still alive damn thats wrong troy davis family need to sue the system

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TD31707 3 years, 1 month ago

Are you really that dumb? If you are in fact, a criminal justice student, I can foresee our judicial system being worse off in the future if you take that mindset into it. Have you reviewed all evidence fairly and considered that Oct 24th of 2008, he had his first of THREE stays of execution ordered. It has nothing to do with black and white! You should be embarrassed that you posted that with race as your only argument, you clearly have no knowledge of related facts. Troy Davis went through many appeals, but the system found him to be guilty. You should learn to inform yourself of the subject material and to disguise your racial bias a little better when you post comments. By the way, I'm white, but I'm able to see beyond race and I want Johnson, and all murderers to die, I'd prefer they made it painful too.

P.S. Using correct spelling, grammar, and a little punctuation would not hurt either.

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coachjohnson42 3 years, 1 month ago

The criminal justice student may not be grammatically correct, but she has a point. Troy Davis should not have been executed. 7 of 9 witnessed changed their story and thats all the evidence they had against him. Last time I checked, 7 of 9 is a majority. Majority normally rules in a fair society. But when race is a factor, majority means nothing in a racist man's eyes. The same type of "racist eyes" saw the Rodney King beating and said he was "resisting arrest" .....give me a break!!! Troy Davis should not have been murdered.

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