Johnson death penalty hearing re-scheduled for February

Johnson death penalty hearing re-scheduled for February
Angela Sizemore was killed in March 1994.
Angela Sizemore was killed in March 1994.

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A hearing set for Wednesday in the Ray Johnson case has been postponed, and now re-scheduled for February 26th at 9:00 AM in Judge Willie Lockette's courtroom.

The hearing was postponed because of a scheduling conflict with one of Johnson's defense attorneys.

Johnson was sentenced to death in 1998 for the 1994 murder of Angela Sizemore.

Sizemore was raped and stabbed 41 times. Her family has been waiting for Johnson's execution for almost 21 years. Monday they were informed that wait will be even longer.

Angela Sizemore's daughter, Katie Barker, was just about to leave her home in Tennessee to drive back for Wednesday's hearing, when the Attorney General's office called today to tell her the hearing had been postponed. "It's just devastating. We're ready for this to be over," she said.

The hearing was postponed because the lead attorney for Ray Johnson, Brian Kammer of the Georgia Resource Center, said he had a scheduling conflict.

Barker says for Sizemore's family, every delay is heartbreaking. "This should have been over a long time ago. It's like living that day over and over and over again, because of what they talk about in that courtroom."

Judge Willie Lockette ruled in the last hearing in June that this would be the final hearing to decide if Johnson would receive a new trial. District Attorney Greg Edwards filed an objection to the delay, but the Judge ruled for the defense.

But legal experts say death penalty cases have to give wide latitudes to appeals.

Pete Donaldson, Executive Board Member of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys said "Once you've imposed the death penalty, and you find out you are wrong, it wasn't this defendant, you can't undo it. So that's where the concern is."

Barker says she still firmly believes Johnson will be executed one day.

"I don't think we'll get complete closure, because we will never have my mom back. But it will at least give us some peace knowing that my mom finally got the justice she should have gotten a long time ago."

Johnson came within one day of execution in October 2011, before he received a stay.

There has been no date set for rescheduling the death penalty hearing.

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