Gary Granted Stay of Execution, DNA Hearing

By Andrew Wittenberg  - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Convicted of killing three Columbus women in the 1970's, Carlton Gary has fought through many appeals from his cell on death row.

Four hours before his scheduled death, there was new life.

"This is what we expected all along!" exclaimed Gary's wife, Debra.

The words didn't come as easily for the convicted killer's attorney, Jack Martin.

"Can you imagine yourself being in that situation? Tired, resigned, in a certain sense. It must be awful to be an innocent man to be facing that, you know?" Martin said.

In a 5-2 vote, the Georgia State Supreme Court ruled in favor of a motion granting Gary's defense team a hearing before the Muscogee County Superior Court.

In that hearing, the defense will seek DNA testing on evidence from the crime scenes.

Judge Robert Johnston, who will preside over that hearing, denied the same motion last week.

Gary's attorney see this as an opportunity to have his client exonerated.

"We always thought there was plenty of other reasons why Carlton Gary should get a new trial," Martin said.

"There was other evidence which pointed to his innocence. We believed the courts would see that, but you know when that failed, this was our last alternative, I admit it, it was our last alternative."

Which is why District Attorney Julia Slater opposed the motion last week, saying the motion was merely posturing by the defense to buy Gary more time.

"The DNA has been available, the defense has known about it since 2001," Slater said.

"So, if we feel if they were going to ask for DNA testing, there's been eight years they could have done that. In the meantime, we're seeking closure for the victims and their families," Slater told News Leader Nine last Friday.

Gary's adopted daughter, Charity, called it a victory.

"Now we will show physically the proof that this is the wrong man," Gary said.

We're told the hearing will be scheduled in Judge Johnston's court within the next 30-60 days.