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High court upholds stay of execution

JACKSON — The Georgia Supreme Court has refused to vacate a Superior Court order that stays the execution Marcus Ray Johnson, an Albany man convicted in 1998 of killing Angela Sizemore in 1994.

In Jackson Wednesday at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison where Johnson remains on death row, armed guards stood watch at the prison gates awaiting word from the high court on whether Chief Dougherty County Superior Court Judge Willie Lockette’s order delaying Johnson’s execution would stand.

Had the Supreme Court lifted the order, prison officials were prepared to carry out the execution.

Instead, around 2 p.m. after the justices voted unanimously to deny Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards’ emergency appeal on what they called “procedural grounds,” the prison received the information from the court upholding Lockette’s stay.

Wednesday’s decision means that Johnson’s attorneys will have until Feb. 1 to bolster their argument that evidence exists that, if tested using modern forensic science, would be likely to cause a jury to acquit Johnson if he were to be given a new trial.

Edwards said in court Tuesday the request for DNA testing was a delaying tactic and ruse to buy Johnson more time.

Wednesday, Edwards said that he likely wouldn’t try to appeal the stay any further, but that he would continue the fight at the Dougherty County Superior Court level by filing a round of new motions in the case in the coming weeks.

“I intend to reapproach the case here ... filing our own motions here in this court and taking the case that route,” Edwards said.

Brian Kammer, an attorney for the Georgia Resource Center who is one of Johnson’s defense attorneys, had no official statement following the decision by the court Wednesday.

Johnson, 46, was scheduled to die at 7 p.m. Wednesday by lethal injection in Jackson. He was convicted and sentenced to death for the March 24, 1994, rape, torture and murder of Angela Sizemore in Albany.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, which conducted a hearing Monday on clemency for Johnson, has suspended that consideration, based on the decision from the Supreme Court.

Absent in Jackson were the hordes of demonstrators and activists who assembled en mass to protest the use of the death penalty when Troy Davis was put to death Sept. 21.

Davis became an international figure after witnesses, who were originally used to convict Davis of the shooting of an off-duty Savannah police officer, began recanting their statements.

According to documents obtained by The Associated Press, Davis continued to proclaim his innocence and his fight against the death penalty to his last words, urging his supporters to “continue to fight this fight.”

But, Wednesday, just hours before Johnson faced being put to death, the area in front of the prison was quiet except for the conversations of prison guards manning the main gate. It was absent any protesters or activists.

Comments

coachjohnson42 2 years, 6 months ago

Here is a perfect example as to why Troy Davis should not have been executed. There was much doubt in his case with many witnesses changing their story and no physical evidence found. In this case, DNA can help prove innocence or guilt. Johnson even admitted he did stabbed her but didnt think she was dead. Willie Lockette is a fair Judge and wants to look at all the evidence. That other Judge was crazy not to consider the "doubt" and new changed stories by witnesses. He wanted blood!! But we all know the real reason Troy Davis was executed...thats easy....right????

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rock 2 years, 6 months ago

So what are you saying? A black judge stays the execution of white dirt bag to amend for an execution of a black????

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The_Dude 2 years, 6 months ago

Yes, that is easy. Troy Davis murdered a police officer and was convicted of it.

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TD31707 2 years, 6 months ago

That is an easy answer Coach, he was executed because he was found guilty. He was granted three stays of execution and there was a trial for new evidence. He was still found guilty, now he's dead. Let's hang em' all fast after trial, maybe these idiots would stay far away from situations that may lead to them being a suspect if they had an actual fear of a swift and painful retribution.

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rock 2 years, 6 months ago

This sphincter gets a stay for a brutal killing...I hope This idiot of a judge can sleep well. An iinnocent young woman losses her life and he allows a scum sucking bottom feeder to live. Kind of wonder which one is the scum sucking bottom feeder.

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chinaberry25 2 years, 6 months ago

Rock, are you describing one of the judges who just got back on the bench this week? He is one step away from being this guy.

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chinaberry25 2 years, 6 months ago

Bye the way, Troy Davis is a dead topic. Why keep harping on it? He was there and I still do not believe that he is perfectly innocent. You even go along with a crime you do the time. So what you are saying is that he was a model citizen, holding a job, paying taxes or a deadbeat trying to rob you. Which was he?

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Somebody 2 years, 6 months ago

I thought by law that you could be charged in a murder just for being a participant at the scene. If that is the case then it didn't matter if Troy Davis pulled the trigger or not, he could still be charged with murder and not as innocent as some people feel him to be. Troy Davis was a waste of time & tax payers money, and Marcus Ray Johnson is a waste of time and taxpayers money. They harp about the cost of executing people, it costs a lot more to keep these people alive and go through all these appeals nonsense. If they are sentenced to death one day, execute him the next day.

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billythekid 2 years, 6 months ago

Troy Davis had 20 years for appeals, etc..Johnson has 15 years..so, let's wait about five more years before we can compare Johnson and Davis...

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coachjohnson42 2 years, 6 months ago

Troy Davis should not have been executed. To all the hateful people who wanted him killed, may GOD have mercy on your souls as well. Georgia has not healed itself from the wounds of racism and is still too immature to decide if someone needs to be executed or not. Some of their decisions in "racially charged" cases are biased and unfair. Therefore, Georgia does not need the death penalty at all.

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rock 2 years, 6 months ago

Georgia will never heal from racism as long as die hard southerners still try to fight the war of southern insurrection of 1860 and the blacks do not remember the civil rights movement of the 1960-1964. i have never seen so many people that try to remain hostile towards each other. Young men and women of both races seem rude, inconsiderate, and hostile towards everyone, but it seems the black population goes out thier way to be rude and hostile towards non-blacks. Just go to any public venue and you will see young blacks running into people, cursing, loud vulgar music and the attitude every one owes them. I am not old enough to have owned slaves, I do not believe any one in Albany is old enought to have been slaves, so we need a progressive attitude by all.

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tbmuch 2 years, 6 months ago

It is hard for me to understand as to why Mr. Johnson is still breathing, the high court and others in the penal system is beginning to get chilled feet about strapping a convicted murderer to the gurney and giving them their last shot. We should not become unresolved about putting these murderers to sleep. Let all those that do not have the stomach for such justice continue to holler and parade around with their signs and marching as we that know what must be done, get on with it.

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