Georgia executes “half-strangler”, convicted of raping and killing older women

JACKSON, Ga. – Georgia has killed a man known as the "Strangler of the Mean," who was convicted of raping and killing older women in attacks that terrorized a small town decades ago. The Georgia Attorney General's Office Chris Car said that 67-year-old Carlton Gary ran minutes after 10:30 p.m. Thursday at the state prison in Jackson. He is the first prisoner executed by Georgia this year.

Gary was convicted in 1986 of three counts each of murder for malice, rape and robbery for the 1977 deaths of Florence Scheible, 89, Martha Thurmond, 69, and Kathleen Woodruff, 74.

From September 1977 to April 1978, the chain of violent attacks against older women terrorized the city of Columbus, in western Georgia. The women, aged between 59 and 89, were beaten, raped and drowned, often with their own stockings. Seven died and two were injured in the attacks.

Prosecutors have consistently said that the same man carried out the nine attacks.

Police arrested Gary in May 1984, six years after the last murder. He became a suspect when a stolen weapon was found during a robbery in 1977 in the exclusive neighborhood where all but one of the victims lived.

In 2009, a few hours before Gary's first execution date, the Georgia Supreme Court ordered a stay to allow DNA testing of semen found at crime scenes, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Gary's lawyers still say The police arrested the wrong man, and recently discovered evidence proves his innocence.

In the clemency petition filed Wednesday with the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, Gary's attorneys argued that the evidence that would have helped his client was not available to his defense team at trial because the methods of Necessary evidence did not exist at that time or because prosecutors did not disclose it.

"We are not talking about questionable retractable witnesses who showed up long after the trial, but hard physical evidence of innocence," their lawyers wrote. That evidence would have raised a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors who condemned it, they say.

The arguments in the clemency petition have been raised earlier in the judicial records, and state attorneys have constantly questioned their validity.

Since the state says that the same person carried out all the attacks, excluding him from only one "would prove, under the prosecution's own theory, that Mr. Gary was innocent of the nine attacks," his lawyers wrote. .

DNA tests conducted years after the trial of semen found in clothing worn by one of the women who survived do not match Gary, his lawyers wrote. That's significant, say Gary's lawyers, because the woman had dramatically identified Gary as his attacker during the trial, and the prosecution relied heavily on his testimony.

The defense also belatedly received a police report in which it is reported that the woman told agents that she was asleep at the time of the attack, that her bedroom was dark and that she could not identify or describe her attacker, the request of clemency said.

The body fluid tests done with semen found in Thurmond's body and Scheible's leaf spots also likely exclude Gary, his attorneys argue. DNA testing would have provided more evidence, they wrote, but it could not be done because it was discovered that the samples had been contaminated in the criminal laboratory of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

A shoe print found in one of the scenes was not revealed to the defense until 20 years after the trial and would have cast doubts on his guilt because his size of 13 and a half feet would not fit in the size 10 shoe he made. printing, said the application.

In addition, defense experts testified that the evidence of a bite mark on one of the victims that disappeared for years does not match Gary's teeth, and the fingerprint evidence that the prosecution trusted was problematic.

Authorities have said that Gary confessed to participating in the robberies, but said another man committed the rapes and murders. His lawyers say that the undocumented and undocumented statement "conforms to all the recognized characteristics of a false confession that never happened."

State attorneys have previously challenged these claims in court filings. They say that Gary's claims have been repeatedly rejected by the courts. In addition, they argued, the state now has even more evidence proving Gary's guilt, and a judge who denied a new trial found that none of the evidence cited by Gary's lawyers would have changed the verdict.

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