Execution date set for Brian Terrell

posted Nov 24, 2015, 8:55 AM by GFADP staff

An execution date has been set for Brian Terrell for Tuesday, December 8 at 7pm.

We will be in touch soon with how to take action.


Clemency denied for Marcus Ray Johnson

posted Nov 18, 2015, 7:05 PM by GFADP staff   [ updated Nov 18, 2015, 7:08 PM ]

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied Marcus Ray Johnson's request for clemency. Please plan to attend a vigil near you. For a full list of vigils, click here.  

Parole Board clemency denied; condemned killer pins hopes on courts

Updated: 8:43 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015  |  Posted: 6:44 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015

By Rhonda Cook - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Marcus Ray Johnson will begin his day Thursday preparing to be put to death.

The state Board of Pardons and Paroles decided Wednesday night not to grant him clemency, but he still has an appeal pending in the courts.

Johnson, 50, is scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m. for the 1994 murder of Angela Sizemore, a 35-year-old woman he met in an Albany bar and had sex with in a nearby empty lot.

Sizemore’s body was found on the floor of her SUV about seven hours after she left the Fundamentals bar with Johnson. She had been stabbed 41 times.

Johnson’s lawyer and advocates met in secret with the Parole Board for about 3 1/2 hours hours Wednesday morning. Then the five board members spent almost two hours Wednesday afternoon with those who want Johnson to be executed.

If he is put to death, Johnson will be the fourth person Georgia has executed this year and the 36th to die since the state started using lethal injection.

While the Parole Board considers his clemency petition, Johnson’s last-minute appeal moved through the courts.

His attorney wants time to show that Johnson is innocent of murder.

“Marcus Ray Johnson is factually innocent of the murder of Angela Sizemore, and his impending execution, should it be allowed to proceed, will be ‘an atrocious violation of our Constitution and the principles upon which it is based,’” attorney Brian Kammer wrote in the opening line of an appeal filed on Monday.

By midafternoon Wednesday, the first judge in the late-stage appeals process — a Superior Court judge in Butts County, where the prison is located — turned down Johnson’s request to stop his execution so there could be more DNA testing of evidence discovered in a box that was kept at police headquarters. Johnson’s lawyer also argued there were problems with witnesses who said they saw Johnson in the neighborhood where a man walking his dog discovered Sizemore’s SUV.

Then the appeal went to the Georgia Supreme Court.

The former Dougherty County district attorney who prosecuted Johnson, Ken Hodges, said he has no doubt Johnson mutilated Sizemore and then murdered her.

So far, the courts have rejected Johnson’s appeals, saying his innocence claim, questions about eyewitness accounts and the evidence found years after trial had already been decided and could not be argued again.

Sizemore, who lived in South Florida in 1994, was in Albany at the time to attend a funeral, according to testimony. She went to dinner with two friends, then had drinks. By the time she walked into the Fundamentals bar just after midnight on March 24, 1994, Sizemore was already drunk, the bartender testified.

Johnson was shooting pool.

For more than an hour, Johnson and Sizemore danced, had a few shots of tequila and sat in a back booth kissing. They left together and were last seen walking down the street.

When police picked up Johnson later that day, he told detectives that he and Sizemore had sexual relations. And he explained that a drop of her blood got on his leather jacket when he punched her in the nose when she insisted on cuddling.

But, Johnson said, she was alive when he last saw her, sitting in the empty lot and crying.

Kammer argued that the only physical evidence tying Johnson to Sizemore was the single drop of blood on his jacket and remnants from their “consensual” sex. Kammer said there are problems with the identifications by eyewitnesses who said they saw Johnson in the area where Sizemore’s SUV was found.

He also argued there was a possibility Sizemore was killed because she brought marijuana from Florida to sell in Albany, or because of her husband’s then-pending federal charges of drug and immigrant trafficking. Sizemore’s 26-year-old daughter said her mother did nothing illegal and Johnson’s attorney was only sullying her name.s/news/local/condemned-killer-waits-on-word-from-parole-board

Action Alert: Take Action for Marcus Ray Johnson

posted Nov 11, 2015, 12:35 PM by GFADP staff   [ updated Nov 11, 2015, 12:56 PM ]

As you know, Marcus Ray Johnson has an execution date for next Thursday, November 19 at 7:00pm. We’re writing today to ask you to sign a letter of support for Mr. Johnson and to spread the word to others in your community.

Mr. Johnson has maintained his innocence from the day of his arrest until now and was convicted on the basis of unreliable eyewitness testimony from people who did not see Mr. Johnson commit any crime. Yesterday, Mr. Johnson’s attorneys appealed to the Parole Board for clemency based on actual innocence. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that our criminal justice system is not devoid of error, and we now know that 155 individuals have been released from death rows across the United States, most often due to mistaken witness identification, since 1976.

Mr. Johnson’s  lawyers will present to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles on Wednesday, November 18 at 9:00 am. The Parole Board is the entity in Georgia that has the sole authority to grant or deny clemency (either to commute, or reduce, a death sentence to life without parole.) Only after a person has exhausted all appeals and other avenues of relief will the Parole Board consider granting clemency. 

We could really use your help getting the clemency letter signed by Monday afternoon (11/16/15). Marcus' clemency hearing is next Wednesday and his attorneys plan to send the letters in a bundle next Tuesday.

How you can help:

1.  Signing the clemency letter and sharing the link http://goo.gl/forms/nMksz30XLb widely with your networks to gather as many signatures as we can by Monday, November 16, 2015.

2.  Posting the following tweets to drive signatures to the letter http://goo.gl/forms/nMksz30XLb

We will keep everyone updated on new developments.

With hope,


Teach-in on Intellectual Disability and the Death Penalty -November 10

posted Nov 6, 2015, 9:05 AM by GFADP staff   [ updated Nov 6, 2015, 9:59 AM ]

As you know, Georgia is the only state in the U.S. that uses the highest standard of proof (Beyond a Reasonable Doubt) for a defendant to meet the legal standard of Intellectual Disability in death penalty cases. Because of this high standard of proof, Georgia continues to execute people with developmental disabilities, including Warren Lee Hill, who the State executed on January 27, 2015. Had Mr. Hill been convicted of the same crime in any other state, he would not have been eligible for the death penalty.


To address this unfairness, the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, and Georgia Catholics Against the Death Penalty will be advocating for a bill during the 2016 legislative session that will change the “burden of proof” to the “preponderance of the evidence” in death penalty cases involving people with intellectual disabilities.


Please join us for a Teach-in on Intellectual Disability and the death penalty on Tuesday, November 10  from 7-9pm (doors will open at 6pm)

Location: The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta: 2401 Lake Park Dr. SE Smyrna, GA 30080


To learn more about what you can do to current this wrong, please register here: https://secure.archatl.com/np/clients/archatl/event.jsp?event=3451&


This event is free and open to the public.


We look forward to seeing you there.



Execution date set for Ray Johnson

posted Nov 4, 2015, 12:49 PM by GFADP staff

We're very sorry to share that an execution date has been set for Marcus “Ray” Johnson for November 19 at 7:00pm.

As you might recall,  Ray was giving an execution date the day after Troy Davis was executed.

He was granted a stay of execution after police in Albany, Georgia, discovered a box with new, never-before-seen biological evidence that could allow DNA testing. Lawyers for Johnson filed "an Extraordinary Motion for New Trial Based on New Evidence Produced by Albany Police Department.”

A DNA expert testified before the Georgia Board of Pardon and Paroles about the new box of evidence, and how new DNA tests could identify the perpetrator. A Forensic Pathologist also testified that the pocket knife depicted as the murder weapon at trail did not test positive for blood, and does not match the wounds. 

It has been repeatedly demonstrated that our criminal justice system is not devoid of error and we now know that 155 individuals have been released from death rows across the United States due to wrongful conviction since 1976.

We are in contact with Ray’s lawyers and will be touch with more information.


Public education event of the death penalty, Monday, October 5

posted Oct 2, 2015, 1:42 PM by GFADP staff

Justice Journeys, an education and advocacy action group focused on the injustices of mass incarceration invited Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty to present at their monthly meeting on Monday, October 5.  
As you know, Georgia has resumed executions and Kelly Gissendaner was executed this week. Nationally, Richard Glossip's execution was stayed in Oklahoma because of an issue with the execution drugs and last night, Virginia executed a man before the US Supreme Court ruled on his pending appeals. In Georgia, we're expecting several more execution warrants to be issued this year. Whether you've been in the struggle to end the death penalty for a long time or you're new; we need you. Come and learn about GFADP's work and what you can do in your community. 
The panel of speakers includes GFADP Organizer Dorinda Tatum, community member Leonard Jones, and GFADP board members Kathryn Hamoudah and Peggy Hendrix.
Monday, October 5th  – 7 to 8:30 PM
St. Bede’s Episcopal Church, 2601 Henderson Mill Road, Atlanta 30345
For questions, please contact Tommie Thompson, tommie@justicejourneys.org  678-481-6025.
The event is free and open to the public. 
See you on Monday!
Kathryn on behalf of GFADP

Kelly Gissendaner

posted Sep 30, 2015, 5:06 AM by GFADP staff

Last night, the State of Georgia executed Kelly Gissendaner.

Kelly was executed despite the fact that she did not physically carry out the crime. Her co-defendant will be eligible for parole in 7 years. This is the first time in the modern death penalty era (post-1976) that Georgia has executed an individual who did not kill the victim and was not there when the victim was killed.

It is absolutely horrifying and unconscionable that Georgia proceeded with this execution despite public outcry from Pope Francis, Former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher and many others. 

We are so grateful to the incredible organizers with #kellyonmymind, a group of religious leaders who know and love Kelly. Their tenacity and courage to keep fighting, propelled Kelly’s case into the spotlight and allowed her story of transformation and redemption to be known around the world.  The outgrowth of her journey is seen vividly in the care and support she has offered to those who were incarcerated with her who were placed in lockdown near her cell, often because of their behavioral problems or mental illness. Many of these women have come forward to share their experiences of how Kelly was their only strength and support during their darkest days in prison. Some who had attempted or were contemplating suicide credit Kelly with saving their lives. All say that Kelly challenged them to change their lives while they were in prison, offering encouragement, guidance, and love when they needed it most.

We learned that Kelly’s kids had to choose between testifying at the parole board or seeing their mom. This is not justice. This is horrifying and unjust. This is the death penalty.

Nights like tonight are awful and painful. They also remind us of the importance of our work together.  We remain hopeful in knowing that Georgians from all over the state were gathered in solidarity with Kelly as the state took her life.  Thank you to each of you who attended a vigil, wrote a letter, or simply kept Kelly and her family in your thoughts and prayers. We will continue to organize until the death penalty is abolished once and for all. 

The State of Georgia plans to issue warrants for 7 other people. To those of you who have been moved by Kelly's case-we need you.

Below is a statement from Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and organizers with #kellyonmymind.

We are so grateful for all of you who fight for justice each and every day.

In solidarity,

Kathryn on behalf of GFADP

Press Release: Georgians to Vigil in Opposition to Execution of Kelly Gissendaner

posted Sep 29, 2015, 11:22 AM by GFADP staff   [ updated Sep 29, 2015, 11:23 AM ]

The parole board made a decision late yesterday to hold a clemency hearing for Kelly today at 11am.

If the execution moves forward, GFADP will hold 12 vigils across the state. One caveat is that the people will gather at the Capitol at 6:30pm, no matter the outcome. For a full list of vigils, see below.

We’ve included our press release below.

As it gets later, we will be away from our computers travelling to the various vigil sites.

For those of you on social media, you can keep updated at https://www.facebook.com/KellyGissendaner.KellyOnMyMind?fref=ts.

With hope,


Struggle Sisters and Kelly Gissendaner

posted Sep 23, 2015, 11:36 AM by GFADP staff   [ updated Sep 23, 2015, 11:36 AM ]

We wanted to share an incredibly powerful video featuring a group of women who were incarcerated with Kelly Gissendaner, who are now pleading with the state of Georgia to spare her life.

You can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzBUz2JS7Jo

We’ve also included the AJC article below.

Just a reminder that at 7:00pm tonight, there will be a Service of Prayer and Light for Kelly and all those impacted by her death sentence at the Cathedral of St. Philip, 2744 Peachtree Road, N.W., Atlanta, GA 30305. 

In addition, if you’re able to help make banners, please join us this Saturday, September 26 at 2:00PM at Park Avenue Baptist Church in Grant Park in Atlanta. Please bring any banner making materials that you have.



Former inmates rally to save murderess from death

Posted: 2:00 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21, 2015

By Mark Davis - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Hers is a life measured by the dictates of Pulaski State Prison: when to rise, when to eat, when to go to bed so she can repeat the process the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that. This is how Kelly Gissendaner’s life will unspool until the state of Georgia ends it.

That day may not be far off. Judicial officials on Friday issued a death warrant, Gissendaner’s third, for convincing her lover to kill her husband two decades ago. Her execution date is set for Sept. 29 and, if it proceeds, she would become the first woman Georgia has put to death since 1945.


Former inmates who met Kelly Gissindaner in prison are urging the state not to proceed with the convicted murderer’s execution. A... Read More

That day will not arrive, say her supporters, without a chorus of cries that Gissendaner, 47, be spared the ultimate punishment.

A loose-knit collection of former female convicts credit Gissendaner with giving them hope behind bars, ministering to them through an air ventThey are urging the state to reconsider her death sentence and let her live out her days in prison instead. The women call themselves Struggle Sisters.

Gissendaner acknowledges she coordinated the beating and stabbing death of her husband in 1997. She faced capital punishment twice earlier this year. Bad weather delayed one execution; a cloudy vial of lethal drugs prompted the second execution’s postponement.

The former inmates see those delays as a final chance to make their appeal. The women have established aFacebook page explaining their mission. They’ve recorded videos pleading her case, echoing the emotional pleas for mercycoming from two of Gissendaner’s children.

The women credit Gissendaner with helping them turn their own troubled lives around. Nikki Roberts, convicted of robbery, is typical.

·       Kelly Gissendaner’s children speak in video

“I was at my low of lows” when chance brought her into contact with Gissendaner, the Atlanta resident recalled. “But I got some hope.”

She got it at Metro State Prison, where she’d been temporarily sent to “lockdown,” a cell block for high-security female prisoners or inmates who posed a threat to themselves. Roberts had earned a spot: She’d tried to slit her wrists.

In the new cell, she cried, cursed, howled. She paused in her rantings only when she heard a voice, coming through a heating vent: “Don’t wish death on yourself,” the voice said. “You sound like you’ve got some sense.”

The voice, she discovered, belonged to Gissendaner, Georgia’s sole female facing capital punishment — and, Roberts quickly learned, the sole voice of compassion in that echoing warren.

Roberts listened. The voice said she ought to sign up for some teaching courses, maybe impart some of that knowledge to others. Gissendaner, who’d spent years studying theology, suggested topics that Roberts might study. A chaplain agreed to work with her.

Prison officials transferred Roberts back to the general population. She was, they discovered, a different inmate. She joined a choir. She became a prayer leader. She served her 10 years and was paroled last year. Roberts now works for an Atlanta agency that teaches adult literacy.

Others could benefit from Gissendaner’s counsel, Roberts said.

“Killing Kelly is essentially killing hope,” said Roberts, 40. “Kelly is the poster child for redemption.”

That’s not just hyperbole, said Stephen Bright, senior counsel for the Southern Center for Human Rights. The Atlanta nonprofit specializes in prison issues, especially capital punishment cases.

Gissendaner, he suggested, has changed for the better in her two decades behind bars. “There is such a thing as redemption,” Bright said. “I’ve seen it over and over.”

Deborah Denno, a law professor at Fordham University and an expert on capital punishment, likened Gissendaner’s case to that ofKarla Faye Tucker. Convicted of murder in Texas, Tucker became a Christian while in prison. Like Gissendaner, she counseled other inmates and built a following of supporters urging Texas corrections officials to commute her sentence to life in prison. It wasn’t enough: In 1998, the state gave her a lethal injection.

Gissendaner’s supporters may have just as much of an uphill fight, she said. “It’s too few people at too low a rung in the hierarchy of influence,” she said. “They would have to make a lot of noise. But who knows?”

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter believes that Gissendaner deserves the death penalty and accused her of manipulation in planning her husband’s slaying and in trying to avoid execution.

Gissendaner has never forgotten her crime, said her lead defense lawyer, Susan Casey. “She prays every day for the people she’s hurt,” said Casey.

The Struggle Sisters, she said, are a collective voice of conscience. “We didn’t even know about them until they started coming to us,” Casey said.

They appeared - seemingly out of nowhere - at Gissendaner’s clemency hearing earlier year, intent on explaining to anyone who would listen how the death row inmate set them on a new course. Gissendaner’s clemency plea was denied but her legal team soon learned that the inmates their client had counseled in prison were among her most passionate defenders.

“These women have some incredible stories of rehabilitation and change,” Casey said.

Kara Stephens, for one. Convicted of armed robbery, she was remanded to Metro’s lockdown for fighting. There, she met Gissendaner, and was impressed with her grace under the worst sort of pressure. What other death-row prisoner, she wondered, could find reason to be upbeat?

As her days of incarceration dwindled, Stephens despaired. Would her children welcome her back? Where would she stay? Could she survive in society after a decade of strictly regulated existence?

“I was just wanting to give up,” said Stephens, now 38. “I was terrified of going home.”

Gissendaner offered some support: Stephens was somebody. God loved her. Things would be OK.

In March 2009, a frightened Stephens re-entered society. These days, she works for a Chattanooga social-works agency sponsored by the Presbyterian church.

Nicole Legere, convicted of theft, is another Struggle Sister. When lawyers asked if she’d appear in a video supporting Gissendaner, she said yes.

“I saw the change in (other inmates) who talked to her,” said Legere, 36, who left prison in 2013 after serving her full sentence. She lives in Ringgold and works for a printing company.

“There needs to be people like her, someone to be a mentor,” Legere said. “She’s a lot of hope. And there’s not much hope in there.”

Women and Capital Punishment:

Women remain a rarity on death row.

There are 56 women currently awaiting execution in the United States. That represents less than 2 percent of the total death row population.

Since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976, 15 women have been executed in the United States - or 1 percent of the 1,414 executions.

In Georgia, the last woman put to death was Lena Baker, who was electrocuted in 1945. Baker who was black, was executed for killing a white mill operator in Cuthbert, Ga. She had been hired to care for him after he broke his leg. She argued he tried to sexually assault her and has since been pardoned.

Sources: The Death Penalty Information Center and the NACCP Legal Defense Fund





Public Events scheduled calling for Kelly Gissendaner’s execution to be halted

posted Sep 22, 2015, 11:38 AM by GFADP staff

Please see a list of events below put on by organizers with #kellyonmymind.

We wanted to make sure you saw the video featuring Kelly’s children pleading for their mom’s life. For those of you on social media, please share far and wide.


In addition, please take a moment to read or re-read the New York Times profile on Kelly from earlier this year.

We will continue to keep you posted as we get more information.


Public Events

Tuesday, September 22, 2015:

Noon – 1:00 p.m. Webinar - Redeeming Responsibility: Why Churches Should Engage in Prison Ministry. Presented by Elizabeth M. Bounds, associate professor of Christian ethics. More information

5:00-7:00 p.m. - No One is Beyond Redemption: A Candler Conversation on Capital Punishment and the Scheduled Execution of Kelly Gissendaner. Presenters: Liz Bounds, associate professor of Christian ethics, Robert Franklin, James T. and Berta R. Laney Professor in Moral Leadership, and Katie Chamblee, staff attorney, Southern Center for Human Rights who focuses on death penalty cases in Georgia and Alabama. Rita Ann Rollins Building Room 252, Candler School of Theology on the campus of Emory University, at 1531 Dickey Drive, Atlanta, GA 30322. More information

Wednesday, September 23, 2015:

11:30 a.m. - Faith leaders pray for clemency for Kelly Gissendaner. Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive SE, Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower, Atlanta, GA 30334-4909 

7:00 p.m. - Service of Prayer and Light for Kelly Gissendaner and all those hurt by her crime and death sentence, to beseech God for healing and mercy for all involved, and to witness to hope. The Cathedral of St. Philip, 2744 Peachtree Road, N.W., Atlanta, GA 30305. 

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