ALBANY — Attorneys for a man facing execution Wednesday in the brutal slaying of an Albany woman 17 years ago are asking for a stay of execution and new trial for their client.
Marcus Ray Johnson is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Wednesday for murdering Angela Sizemore in 1994. It would be the state’s first execution since the Troy Davis execution that drew international attention.
Johnson also has a clemency hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday before the State Board of Pardons and Parole.
But his attorneys — Brian S. Kammer, Amy Vosberg-Casey and Lynn M. Pearson, all lawyers with the Georgia Resource Center, contend there are enough questions about Johnson’s conviction to warrant a new trial. A motion citing “troubling inconsistencies” was filed Tuesday in Dougherty Superior Court.
“Numerous pieces of physical evidence that do not fit with state’s theory at trial coupled with unreliable eyewitness identifications all point to a different perpetrator or perpetrators,” the lawyers argue.
The attorneys are asking for a stay of execution to allow for enough time for judges to decide if a new trial for Johnson should be granted, along with an order to preserve evidence and an order for post-conviction testing of DNA evidence.
According to the court documents filed Tuesday, Johnson’s lawyers offer affidavits from blood spatter experts and forensic scientists that may cast new doubt on Johnson’s conviction.
Chief among the new claims is that there were two different blood types discovered at the crime scene, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s report. Investigators found at the scene blood matching types A and O. Both Sizemore and Johnson are blood type A, lawyers contend.
Johnson’s lawyers also argue that investigators in Albany never conducted any testing on Johnson’s pocket knife — the item prosecutors believe was the murder weapon — and believe that the cursory testing that was done yielded no evidence of blood, or a mysterious black substance that was found in the stab wounds on Sizemore’s body.
Additionally, the lawyers included the affidavit of Pathologist Dr. Jonathan Arden, who stated that there appeared to be evidence that multiple weapons — including a single-blade knife and possibly even an ice pick — may have been used.
Johnson’s lawyers have also submitted to the court an affidavit from Dr. Marilyn Miller, who, after reviewing the case file and crime scene evidence, says that the “trace amounts of blood” found on Johnson’s leather jacket the day following the murder — blood Johnson says could have come from when he admittedly struck Sizemore in the face — would be in too little volume to match the copious amounts that would have come from 41 stab wounds.
“It is my expert opinion that there would have been a great deal of blood loss and transfer of blood from the victim to the perpetrator during this crime,” Miller states. “If Mr. Johnson was the perpetrator in this case, his leather clothing, jewelry and shoes would have been covered in the victim’s blood ... however only minute traces of blood were found on the left lapel and right arm of Mr. Johnson’s leather jacket.”
In the motion, defense lawyers also point to the fact that the one fingerprint found in the vehicle where Sizemore’s body was found didn’t match Johnson or anyone else in the FBI’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System at the time and that the only hair sample collected from within the vehicle was “a head hair of possible Negroid origin.”
No DNA testing was done on the hair.
Lastly, the lawyers are asking for an evidentiary hearing to discuss what they contend to be the illegal destruction of evidence by the Dougherty County Clerk. According to the attorneys, when contacted in August about the evidence collected in the case, officials in the clerk’s office told them that some of the evidence had been destroyed.
Johnson was convicted in Dougherty Superior Court in 1998 on charges of malice murder, aggravated assault, rape and aggravated battery. Sizemore’s body was found in 1994 in her SUV. She had been stabbed 41 times and impaled by a tree limb.
Witnesses said they saw Johnson and Sizemore leave a nightclub together. Witnesses also said they saw Johnson later boarding a bus alone.
District Attorney Greg Edwards, who was an assistant district attorney at the time and who was lead prosecutor during the trial, said Wednesday that he stands by Johnson’s conviction and believes Johnson did, in fact, kill Angela Sizemore.
If executed Wednesday, Edwards said that Johnson would be the first man from Dougherty County to be executed since 1954.