The State continues calling witnesses in "Stocking Strangler" re - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

The State continues calling witnesses in "Stocking Strangler" retrial hearing

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

In the Carlton Gary retrial hearing, the State started out day 4 of testimony with expert witness Dawn Bassett, formerly of the GBI crime lab in Atlanta.

Assistant District Attorney Don Kelly asked Bassett about a letter she wrote to detectives in Syracuse, N.Y. about a hit in the National DNA database. The hit pertained to a convicted offender housed in the state of Georgia known as Carlton Gary.

When Kelly asked whether Bassett confirmed the convicted offender sample, she replied, "We attempted to confirm the sample, but there wasn't enough swab sample left to get the confirmation. Bassett also added, "It is still possible the convict cold be linked to the case."

During cross examination by defense attorney Jack Martin, Bassett answered questions about the procedure for collecting profiles under Georgia law. Before 2007, Georgia law required only sex offenders DNA profiles to be entered into the state's database. The law has since expanded to include DNA profiles from all convicts.

Lt. Ronald Rockwood, who worked for the Syracuse Police Department in New York in 2007 as an investigator, also took the stand Thursday. Rockwood told the court he was provided with Carlton Gary's name in 2007.  The notification came from the GBI in reference to a hit in the national database to the 1975 homicide of Marion Fisher.  Rockwood says he then traveled to Jackson, Ga. to interview Gary on Aug. 21, 2007.  When Rockwood and his partner identified themselves, he said Gary reacted by saying, "I've already danced this dance before."

Rockwood then testified they proceeded to tell Gary there were new developments that he would want to be aware of.  At that point, Gary said he'd be willing to talk.

 Rockwood proceeded to tell the court Gary was advised of his right and he repeatedly interrupted the officer saying, "I know my rights better than you do."

"I explained to him we have your DNA," stated Rockwood. 

According to the testimony, when the investigators showed Gary a crime scene photo, Gary began talking about his encounter with Fisher the night she was killed. "He recalled being at a bar and meeting three women, one of whom was intoxicated," said Rockwood. Gary said the same lady had fought with her husband.  However, Rockwood said Gary told him he and the lady had sex on the hood of a car in the back parking lot of the bar. Then, she left and he went back inside.

Fisher's body was found 2.5 miles from the bar.  Rockwood said Gary told them he and the woman didn't have any interaction away from the bar.  Evidence tested in the case included a red towel found 50 feet away from the Fisher's body and fingernail scrapings. The judge ruled against allowing the evidence in the hearing following an objection by the defense.

Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren, whose role in 1984 was an investigator when Carlton Gary was arrested, also testified for the state. His testimony centered on how CPD linked Carlton Gary to the "Stocking Stanglings."   Boren said they had received information about a gun stolen during burglary on Eberhart Ave. in the Wynnton Rd. area.

A trace on the gun showed it had been registered in Michigan and Phenix City.  The investigation led them to the home of Jim Gary, Carlton's uncle, who was the first to tell people about Carlton Gary.

Police then started searching for Gary who was later found, by way of a tip, inside a motel in Albany, Ga. with a woman.  At that time, he was a fugitive from justice for escaping from custody in South Carolina.

That tip came during a traffic stop of the sister of the girl Carlton was with inside the motel. 

The same day, May 3, 1984, Carlton Gary and the woman were picked up by police in Albany, Ga.  When Columbus police got the call that Gary had been arrested, Boren says they decided to take two police units to transport Gary and the woman back to Columbus separately.

Remember, Carlton Gary, was wanted in Columbus for the Eberhart burglary at that time. "When we got to Albany, one of the Albany detectives came out and said, ‘Rick it's him! It's him! I compared the prints.'

"On the way back to Columbus, Carlton asked why we were picking him up other than warrants from S. Carolina," explained Boren. No charges were filed against the woman.

"He was a nice guy, calm, collected and did not appear nervous," added Boren.   Boren also said Carlton Gary was very inquisitive about his case and the charges.

But, when they arrived at CPD, it was jammed packed with people and the media, testified Boren.

During an interview with police, Gary reportedly confessed to the burglary with a detailed account of how he did it while the homeowners were asleep.

Boren said Gary admitted to stealing the owners' car and says his partner "Tremopolis Joe Preston" took the gun, but gave it to him and Carlton sold it to his uncle. No prints were found at the scene, but Boren admitted during cross examination he told Gary his fingerprint had been found at the burglary scene as a means of making the case against Gary appear stronger.  Boren said he originally thought they, in fact, had prints.

It was during a ride-along with detectives to Eberhart where Gary showed officers the house he had broken into that Gary also directed them to various other houses that he had burglarized. The homes all in the area of Wynnton Rd. from 17th St. to Hilton Ave. to Forest Ave., Carlton Gary pointed out house after house he had broken into while most of the victims were sleeping. Those homes matched the dwellings of the "Stocking Strangling" victims including Jean Dimestein, Martha Thurmond and Kathleen Woodruff.  

"In one case, he said there was a large woman, she was strong, he had problems with her, but everything turned out," recalled Boren.

Boren also said they did not record Gary's statements, because Gary said he didn't want them to. To avoid jeopardizing the case, since Gary was talking, they didn't record him. However, Boren says the information was becoming too much for him to remember. So, he started taking handwritten notes and typed an 8 page document the next day from the notes. The notes were turned into court. Boren showed the document in court Thursday, Feb. 27.

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