Monday, October 3, 2011

Georgia death penalty opponents hope new evidence will halt impending execution

Posted By on Mon, Oct 3, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Just hours after the state executed death row inmate Troy Davis, a death warrant was issued for Marcus Ray Johnson, an Albany man convicted of raping and murdering — by repeated stabbing — Angela Sizemore in 1994.

Today, Johnson will appear before the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to plead for clemency — and a new trial. The basis for his request? According to capital punishment abolition organization Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, police in Albany — ta da! — suddenly discovered a previously overlooked box of evidence in Johnson's case.

From that group's blog:

Last week Police in Albany, Georgia discovered a box with new, never-before-seen biological evidence that could allow DNA testing. Lawyers for Johnson filed "an Extraordinary Motion for New Trial Based on New Evidence Produced by Albany Police Department" on Friday.

Today, a DNA expert will testify before the Georgia Board of Pardon and Paroles about the new box of evidence, and how new DNA tests could identify the perpetrator. A Forensic Pathologist will also testify that the pocket knife depicted as the murder weapon at trail did not test positive for blood, and does not match the wounds.

The case against Johnson was built largely on testimony from people who'd seen Johnson and victim Sizemore together at a bar the night before her mutilated body was found inside her SUV. Representatives from Amnesty International say they're disturbed that, much like in Davis' case, no physical evidence was used to convict Johnson.

If the parole board denies Johnson's request, he'll be executed by lethal injection this Wednesday, October 5, at the Georgia Diagnostic prison in Jackson.

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