Atlanta attorney Jack Martin, representative of Carlton Gary (a/k/a "The Stocking Strangler"), stated that the DNA for the convicted murderer, who has been on death row for more than 25 years, does not match results from a test on evidence from a 1977 rape.
Gary has maintained his innocence since being convicted in 1986.
The testing conducted by the Bode Technology Group of Lorton, Va., found sperm cells on a slip that victim Gertrude Miller was wearing when she was raped and beaten by an intruder in her Hood Street home in September 1977. Those cells yielded a partial DNA profile that did not match Carlton Gary, Martin said.
As a refresher, for six months in the late 1970s, the quaint Southern town of Columbus, Georgia was terrorized by a serial killer known as the “Stocking Strangler,” who raped and garroted seven elderly white women in their homes, and allegedly attacked and assaulted two others who survived. Authoruncovered new evidence that suggests that Gary, who was sentenced to death for the crimes, may be the latest victim of Columbus’ 'Old Boy' brand of justice.
The first murder victim was Mary "Ferne" Jackson, age 59, but prior to Jackson's murder, Miller, who survived the rape and beating, had already raised alarms in Columbus' modestly middle- to upper class white neighborhood in a section called Wynnton.
The next victims were Jean Dimenstein, 71; Florence Scheible, 89; Martha Thurmond, 69; Kathleen Woodruff, 74; Mildred Borom, 78; and Janet Cofer, 61. Another victim, Ruth Schwob, age 74 at the time, fought off the attacker. With the murder of Janet Cofer, the stranglings suddenly halted.
Nearly seven years went by before Gary was arrested. A manhunt ended on May 3, 1984, when a swat team stormed a motel room in Albany, Georgia, surprising Gary as he slept in bed.
Gary was a perfect suspect.
He had a checkered past, but an old friend, Floyd Washington, owner of the hot spot in Columbus 'The F&W Control Tower,' also labeled him as a "ladies' man," a snazzy dresser who could dance very well, and who would leave nightclubs on weekends with beautiful women. Why he would leave a beautiful young girl to go rape old ladies was beyond most people's imaginations.
Gary’s trial did not start until August 1986, and when it did the case presented by District Attorney Bill Smith, a former F.B.I. agent, looked overwhelming.
As a young woman living in Columbus at the time, I wrote the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer to ask about the way the trial was being handled. The letter was published in the paper, and back then, they published not only your name but your address to establish validity of the person writing. I received a letter from thethree days later. They enclosed photographs of young black men whom they had lynched, along with a "clip-lettered" note that read "Black powder will stop black power."
DNA tests the GBI conducted in 2010 matched Gary’s DNA profile to evidence from the Sept. 24, 1977, rape and strangling of Dimenstein, who lived at 3027 21st St., but not to semen collected in the case of Thurmond, who was found beaten, raped and strangled Oct. 25, 1977, in her 2614 Marion St. home.
Besides Thurmond, the other two stranglings for which Gary was convicted were those of Florence Scheible, of 1941 Dimon St., on Oct. 21, 1977; and Kathleen Woodruff, of 1811 Buena Vista Road, on Dec. 28, 1977. Not only is it odd that he was not convicted of the murder on which DNA was allegedly found, but he was convicted of the other murders for which DNA evidence was not found.
Judge John Henry Land, who died in 2011 at the age of 93 expressed two public regrets before he died ... that he had been a staunch supporter of southern segregationist policies, and the way Gary's case was handled. Land's own ancestral charts show familial involvement in the earlier lynchings of black men in Columbus without a fair trial.
Years later, Land's misgivings about the Gary case, as told by him, showed that it was never really proven that Gary committed any of the murders of which he was convicted.
However, current District Attorney Julia Stater states, "...after the results of the tests on behalf of the victims and their families, the State eagerly anticipates discussing in court the results of DNA testing, responding to the rhetoric from Mr. Gary’s defense team, and again showing why the jury’s decision in this case must be upheld."
Judge Clay D. Land, a George Bush appointee, ruled in 2005 that the "bite mold" made from the breast bite of victim Cofer, which did not match Gary's teeth, was not enough evidence to cast doubt on Gary's conviction. Notably enough, Judge Land is also the one who threw out Georgia lawyer Orly Taitz's frivolous and unwarranted claims that Presidentis not eligible for his election to the highest political office in the land; and also fined her $20,000 for continuing to make the frivolous claims. (Taitz, in return, accused Land of "treason.")
As of July 12 of this year, Gary's counsel had filed three appeals for denial of funds to pay two experts to appear at his clemency trial, partial denial of a voucher for payment of services rendered for filing a motion for a retrial, and denial of a motion requesting funds to pay an expert in connection with the DNA motion. One appeal was dismissed and the other two were affirmed in favor of the District Court's decision to deny.
Circuit Judge Charles R. Wilson issued a dissenting opinion in favor of Gary.
He writes, "...I cannot justify depriving a death-sentenced individual of live, unconstrained, expert testimony on the ground that reciting it from a transcript is an adequate substitute. The duty of the clemency board is to make an independent determination about the sentence that has been handed down to the petitioner, and I believe that the expert testimony seeking to cast doubt on Gary’s role in the crimes is reasonably necessary for representation in that proceeding...The majority’s resolution of the issues presented here works to undermine the text of ... Supreme Court precedent. It also disturbs well-settled law governing our ability to review final orders. With its opinion, the majority offers up justification to foreclose a grant of expert assistance to practically all deathsentenced clemency petitioners, even though Congress has specifically provided for those services by statute in recognition of “the seriousness of the possible penalty and . . . the unique and complex nature of the litigation.” [18 U.S.C. § 3599(d).]
The other two circuit judges rendering the decision to dismiss one appeal and uphold two District Court denials are Gerald Bard Tjoflat and J.L. Edmondson. Tjoflat was nominated to his seat by Richard M. Nixon and Edmondson was nominated to his seat by Ronald Reagan. Wilson was nominated to his seat by Pres. William J. (Bill) Clinton. Tjoflat and Edmondson are white males, Wilson is black.
Gary currently remains on Georgia’s death row at the Diagnostic & Classification Prison in Jackson.
After what happened to Troy Davis in Georgia, in which there was no murder weapon or evidence found in which to convict him of the murder of a Savannah policeman, we already know where Gary's "non-conviction" conviction is going.
David Rose: The Big Eddy Club: The Stocking Stranglings & Southern Justice