Marcus Ray Johnson was convicted of killing a Lee County woman in 1994 and sentenced to die. More than a decade later, Johnson will face execution as early as October 5.
ALBANY ALBANY, Ga. — Lawyers for condemned murderer Marcus Ray Johnson say that new evidence has emerged in the case that bolsters their argument for a new trial, just two days before Johnson is scheduled to die.
On Monday, defense attorneys filed a supplement to their motion asking Dougherty Superior Court Judge Willie Lockette for a new trial for Johnson, saying that “never before seen” evidence has surfaced that could potentially exonerate their client.
Johnson is set to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Georgia State Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson for the 1994 murder of Angela Sizemore. Johnson was convicted in 1998 and has been on death row ever since.
According to his attorneys, at some point after the they filed a motion for a new trial on Sept. 27 the Albany Police Department turned over a box of evidence from the case that had never been seen or tested.
The box contained hair and fiber samples from Sizemore’s SUV, where her body was found — a blood-soaked paper bag, the clothes Sizemore was wearing when she was autopsied and fingernail clippings.
The lawyers also note that several of the items that were turned over and were in the original evidence lists in 1998 were mislabeled or mismarked.
Lockette will rule on the motion for a new trial and a motion for a stay of execution during a hearing set for 9 a.m. today in Dougherty Superior Court.
Johnson’s attorneys also met before the Board of Pardons and Paroles Monday, pleading their case for clemency for the Albany man. Stephen Hayes, a spokesperson for the state, said that the board was deliberating on the matter, but wouldn’t have a decision Monday.
While Johnson has steadfastly maintained his innocence, District Attorney Greg Edwards — the man who led the state’s case back in 1998 — remains convinced of his guilt.
“As I told the clemency board, all of the evidence in this case points towards a lone offender. No one else had a motive, there was none other with opportunity, nor was there anyone else with the means to carry out this crime than Marcus Ray Johnson,” Edwards said via phone on his way back from Atlanta Monday.
When asked about the claims of new evidence in the case, Edwards discounted the motion as “attempts to create doubt” in order to get a new trial and stave off Johnson’s date Wednesday with the executioner.
“At best, if you believe the defense’s theory that there were multiple offenders or accomplices, that doesn’t exonerate him of guilt. He’d be just as guilty as them if that was the case,” Edwards said.
Should Johnson be granted a new trial and somehow find himself acquitted, Edwards and the state of Georgia does have a contingency.
While he has no jurisdiction to bring charges, Edwards said that the district attorney for the Pataula Judicial District could levy an indictment against Johnson for the death of a Miller County sheriff’s deputy.
According to the court record, Johnson, who was being held in the Miller County Jail on the murder charges, is alleged to have pistol-whipped a 72-year-old bailiff during an escape attempt.
Johnson was later recaptured and put under more intense lockdown. The bailiff died almost a year later from complications from the attack.
“There is no statute of a limitations on murder, so if the DA in the Pataula Circuit felt so inclined, he could bring those charges against Johnson,” Edwards said.
Edwards and Chief Assistant District Attorney Heather Lanier are scheduled to be part of a contingent of people from Dougherty County who will witness the execution Wednesday.
A reporter from The Albany Herald will be one of the media representatives present to witness the execution.
The state also announced Monday that Johnson had requested his final meal.
Before the 7 p.m. execution, Johnson will receive pizza with ranch dipping sauce, ice cream bars and soda to drink, Gwendolyn Hogan with the Georgia Department of Corrections said.