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