UPDATE 2: Amazingly, on Tuesday, judge has just granted a stay to check on and possibly test new DNA evidence, saving Johnson from execution tomorrow. And the stay lasts until hearing next February.
UPDATE 1: Johnson had final clemency hearing at 10 am (ET) on Monday. Part of it was based on shocking finding of a box of new evidence just last week in Albany, Ga. -- material that could be subjected to DNA testing. Experts testified. Stay tune for decision. New article here.
Following the execution of Manuel Valle in Florida last week, the next state killing is set for Georgia next Wednesday--just two weeks after that state put down Troy Davis. Defenders of Marcus Ray Johnson raise issues similar to those surrounding the Davis case -- lack of physical evidence and reliance on unreliable eyewitness accounts. His attorney today called for a new trial, pointing out that none of the evidence in the case has been allowed to be tested with modern procedures. The state Board of Pardons and Paroles will consider clemency on Monday.
Johnson was convicted of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, rape and aggravated battery in Dougherty County in 1998 for the 1994 killing of Angela Sizemore (she was stabbed 41 times). The board, as we learned in the Davis case, is the sole authority in Georgia for granting clemency to inmates.
Laura Moye, director of Amnesty International's Death Penalty Abolition Campaign, said the similarities between the Johnson and Davis cases are troubling. "We are concerned that similar issues in the Troy Davis case are present here: unreliable eyewitness testimony and a lack of physical evidence," she said. "We urge the State Board of Pardons and Paroles to prevent this execution from proceeding, and we urge Georgia lawmakers to repeal the death penalty in light of the many shocking problems riddling the death penalty system."
My new e-book on this subject probes executions and the great debate in USA right up to last week--thanks to the wonders of modern e-publishing.