Stay of Execution for "Stocking Strangler"

COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX/AP) – Just hours before the man known as the "Stocking Strangler" was scheduled to die by lethal injection, a stay of execution was granted.

In a 5-2 vote on Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Georgia ordered the Muscogee County Superior Court to conduct a hearing  on 59-year-old Carlton Gary's request for DNA testing.

Gary was convicted in the mid-80s for the deaths of three elderly women in Columbus.

The women were raped, then strangled with their own stockings between 1977 and 1978 – an eight month period. Their deaths were 3 of 7 slayings that terrified Columbus.

The crimes remained unsolved until 1984 when a pistol that was stolen from a home in the Wynnton area in October 1977 was linked to Carlton Gary. Gary was arrested on May 3, 1984, for this burglary.

Gary confessed that he was present at the burglary and that he was either present at, or had knowledge of, eight of the nine Wynnton area rapes and murders.

Gary admitted to burglarizing the women's homes, however, he claimed that another individual committed the rapes and murders.

The authorities found no corroborating evidence linking that individual to the crimes.

Gary's fingerprints were ultimately found to match fingerprints at four of the crime scenes. 

On August 26, 1986, Gary was found guilty of raping, murdering and burglarizing the homes of Ruth Schieble, Martha Thurmond and Kathleen Woodruff, three of the nine victims. 

Gary's attorneys say no evidence in the strangling deaths had been subjected to DNA testing since it wasn't available when he was convicted.

The NAACP has planned a prayer vigil for Wednesday at the Columbus Consolidated Government Center at 6:00 p.m. 

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