Crime

Georgia To Execute Man For Woman's 1994 Fatal Stabbing

Marcus Ray Johnson's booking photo provided by Georgia Department of Corrections/REUTERS

A man convicted of the 1994 murder of a woman he met at a bar is set to be put to death in Georgia on Thursday after his petition for clemency was denied.

Marcus Ray Johnson, 50, stabbed Angela Sizemore 41 times after the two left a bar in Albany, Georgia, on March 24, 1994, according to a Georgia Supreme Court synopsis of the case.

Johnson's lawyer filed a clemency petition with the state pardons and paroles board, seeking a stay to allow more time to analyze DNA evidence but the board rejected the request on Wednesday.

If Johnson's lethal injection proceeds at 7 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification prison in Jackson, he will be the 27th person executed in the United States this year. That would be the lowest figure since 1991 before a movement to crack down on crime swept the country and executions hit 98 in 1999, the highest since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Johnson told police he "kind of lost it" when the woman became angry because he would not cuddle with her after they had sex in a vacant lot, according to a court synopsis.

Johnson admitted punching Sizemore, 34, in the face but did not remember anything else until he woke up the next morning, according to court records.

"I didn’t kill her intentionally if I did kill her," he told police.

Sizemore's blood was found on Johnson's leather jacket, and he had scratches on his hands, arms and neck, the synopsis said.

Johnson's lawyer, Brian Kammer, is seeking a new trial, citing insufficient evidence and the prosecutor's use of unreliable eyewitnesses.

Statements from witnesses were "made under the most suggestive circumstances using shoddy and now discredited identification procedures," Kammer said in a statement on Wednesday.

Kammer said new evidence suggests Sizemore's murder was "tied to her involvement in illegal drug trafficking on the night of her death."

Johnson's attorneys claim only a speck of Sizemore's blood was found on Johnson's jacket, consistent with his statement that he punched her in the nose. No blood was found on the knife or the tree branch Johnson allegedly used to sexually assault Sizemore, the defense said.

State prison officials denied Johnson's request to have a six-pack of beer as his last meal because alcohol is considered a contraband item, they said.

(Reporting by David Beasley; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Bill Trott)

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