Judge Lockette granted a stay of Ray Johnson's execution on Tuesday
Convicted murderer Ray Johnson has at least five more months to live. The Georgia Supreme Court refused to overturn a stay of his execution.
Johnson was scheduled to die by lethal injection tonight for the murder of Angela Sizemore in 1994.
Justices say Judge Lockette's order essentially continues the proceedings that began in his court Tuesday, so the Supreme Court didn't feel they could make a ruling since Judge Lockette essentially didn't make a ruling either.
District Attorney Greg Edwards used stern language in his effort to encourage the Georgia Supreme Court to allow Ray Johnson's execution to move forward. In his appeal to the Supreme Court, he claims Judge Lockette erred in authorizing the stay based on a defense request to do more DNA testing.
Edwards claims the court didn't find that testing has a reasonable probability of leading to an acquittal.
On Albany's streets, public opinion seems to side with Judge Lockette. "Before someone gets the death penalty you want to make sure, give them all the chances in the world," said Jesse Nolan.
Edwards also claims the defense never proved that the items which potentially contain DNA evidence are even testable. But on the street some think they should be allowed to try.
"We're talking about a person's life so you have to take into consideration a person's life," Eric Green said.
Georgia Supreme Court justices felt they couldn't rule on the stay because Judge Lockette essentially just postponed Tuesday's hearing until February. It extends the time frame for Sizemore's family, who were visibly upset by the court's ruling.
"The victim's family, they got a right too through, so you know what I mean," said Thomas Linkhorn.
Edwards raised questions the court will eventually have to deal with if new DNA testing is done on evidence including Sizemore's clothing. Sizemore was in two night clubs the night she was stabbed more than 40 times.
Edwards questions whether DNA results could make anyone who touched Sizemore or gave her a friendly pat on the back a suspect.
District Attorney Greg Edwards said he would allow the Georgia Supreme Court's refusal to vacate the stay stand and he will not appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court. It's likely attorney's will now begin preparing for the February hearing.
The Georgia Pardons and Paroles Board said they would consider Johnson's application for clemency only when it appears that all appeals through the courts have ceased or been exhausted.
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