Supreme Court refuses to vacate execution stay order

The Georgia Supreme Court has refused to vacate a Superior Court order that stays the execution tonight of Marcus Ray Johnson.

The Georgia Parole Board, which conducted a hearing Monday on clemency for Johnson, has suspended that consideration.

Board officials say they only consider clemency requests when all other appeals in the court system have been exhausted.

Here is the statement from the Supreme Court of Georgia:

The Supreme Court of Georgia today refused to vacate the stay of execution granted yesterday to Marcus Ray Johnson by Chief Judge Willie Lockette of the Dougherty County Superior Court. In a unanimous vote, the high court dismissed the State’s appeal on procedural grounds.

District Attorney Gregory Edwards filed an emergency motion this morning, asking the state Supreme Court to vacate the judge’s order granting the stay. But the stay was essentially a continuance of a hearing related to whether there should be additional DNA testing in Johnson’s case. Georgia statutes do not authorize an appeal of that matter, the high court has ruled.

As a result, the lower court’s stay of execution remains in place. Judge Lockette has ordered a hearing for Feb. 1, 2012 to further address Johnson’s motion for additional DNA testing.

Johnson, 46, was scheduled to die tonight by lethal injection at 7:00 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, GA. He was convicted and sentenced to death for the March 24, 1994 murder of Angela Sizemore in Albany.