ALBANY -- Attorneys representing convicted murderer Marcus Ray Johnson can have a lab continue testing hairs for DNA and preserve any fingerprints on paper from the crime scene, Dougherty Superior Court Chief Judge Willie Lockette ruled Wednesday.
The ruling "allows the defense to preserve the paper for fingerprints and the costs must be borne by the defense," Lockette said.
"Let us proceed in increments," he said. "Without ruling out the eight (hair) samples not in any real dispute at this time, I am not authorizing any testing beyond them."
The dispute at the hearing arose when the defense attorneys found that any DNA testing of the paper found at the murder scene would destroy any fingerprints on paper found near Angela Sizemore's body on March 24, 1994.
From the argument of Georgia Resource Center defense attorney Amy Vosburg-Casey, it was apparent that the defense hoped to find evidence that Johnson was not alone with Sizemore.
That wouldn't exonerate Johnson, Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards said. Edwards added that the bloody evidence, witness reports and other facts he used to convict Johnson mean that Johnson killed Sizemore by stabbing her 41 times, six times in the heart.
The wait for justice has cost Sizemore's family, her daughter Katie Barker, of Chattanooga, Tenn., said after the hearing. She said that she could forgive Johnson, but she would never forget and that justice for her mother would mean Johnson's execution.
"I know my grandmother wants to go (to the execution)," Barker said. "I would go to be with her. I might not watch, but I would be there."
In 1998, a jury heard evidence that Johnson met an inebriated Sizemore in a bar and left with her. It convicted him of Sizemore's rape, torture and murder.
He was sentenced to death. After appeals, writs and other legal motions that went as high as the U.S. Supreme Court, he was scheduled for execution on Oct. 5, 2011.
Less than 36 hours before Johnson's punishment, Lockette stopped the execution so that DNA testing of material not previously entered into evidence or tested could be examined.
A lawsuit concerning the chemicals used in state executions would probably mean that Johnson's execution would be delayed past 2012.
Defense attorneys declined to talk about the case. Their organization's website garesource.org states the center is "is responsible for ensuring that all of Georgia's death sentenced prisoners have meaningful and vigorous representation at this critical stage of death penalty case review," noting that Georgia is "the only state which does not provide for counsel as a matter of right in post-conviction (habeas corpus) proceedings."