ATLANTA (Reuters) - A Georgia judge on Tuesday issued a stay of execution for a convicted killer whose attorneys seek a new trial and additional DNA testing.
Marcus Ray Johnson, 46, was scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection on Wednesday for the rape and murder of Angela Sizemore in Albany, Georgia in March 1994.
But Dougherty County Superior Court Chief Judge W.E. Lockette delayed the execution and set a hearing for February to determine the merits of Johnson’s request for more DNA testing.
Johnson’s attorneys say the evidence that should be tested includes blood, saliva, hair, clothing and fingernail clippings.
Prosecutors said in court filings that Johnson’s contentions had already been rejected by state and federal courts. The state said, at best, the DNA test results would prove Johnson was still guilty as a party to the crimes.
Dougherty County District Attorney Gregory W. Edwards could not be reached immediately for comment.
Last month, Georgia executed death row inmate Troy Davis for the murder of a police officer. That case attracted worldwide attention because of claims by Davis’s advocates that he may have been innocent.
Johnson is accused of killing Sizemore, 34, who was mutilated and stabbed 41 times with a small knife, according to trial testimony.
The testimony showed that Johnson met Sizemore in a bar in Albany. She had been drinking so heavily that the bar stopped serving her, a court synopsis of the case stated.
A bartender handed Johnson the keys to Sizemore’s car, and the pair left together at about 2:30 a.m. A man walking his dog discovered Sizemore’s body the next morning lying across the front seat of her car.
Johnson told police that Sizemore became angry because he did not want to “snuggle” after sex, and he punched her in the face. He said he “hit her hard” and then walked away.
“I didn’t kill her intentionally if I did kill her,” he told police.
Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Jerry Norton