'Stocking Strangler' appears in court for possible retrial

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – A string of killings during the 1970's that taunted the Columbus community until the killer was caught and convicted is back on the scales of justice.

The 'Stocking Strangler,' Carlton Gary, and his attorney are making their plea for a new trial in a Columbus courtroom Friday.

Gary is still fighting the murder charges he was convicted on in 1986. His defense doing everything they can to avoid death row. As court took session Friday, Gary is still bearing the name of the 'Stocking Strangler.'

May 3, 1984, authorities arrest Carlton Gary in Albany. An arrest which soon leads Columbus Police to believe Gary is guilty of murdering three women using their own stockings, earning him the title of the "Stocking Strangler."

The jury finds Gary guilty in three of the seven stranglings. A day later, he's sentenced to death.

Fast forward decades later of several appeals, court battles, DNA evidence testing, which brings Gary to 2017. His defense presents new evidence and requests a new trial.

Mike Sellers who made Gary's initial arrest, said the case has gone on too long.

"He is long overdue to be put to death for the heinous crimes he has committed," said Sellers.

But Gary's wife, Debra says the evidence isn't there and time frame, just doesn't add up.

"But everything they tried to frame my husband with to put it on him, it did not match him," said Gary.

She said the state hasn't been truthful with the evidence, but there is one thing she can agree on with the state.

"And as the state said from the beginning if one person did one, then they did them all. Well my husband did none of the three he was convicted him of," said Gary.

Gary's defense attorney, Jack Martin, tells me the case has three main faults, which proves Gary is innocent.

"There's a bite mark which does not match Mr. Gary, … when you destroy the one good piece of evidence that could have proved guilt, then you can't in good conscience send someone to be executed," Martin says.

We reached out to the Columbus District Attorney Julia Salter, but she declined for comment.

As for the status of the case, Judge Frank Jordan has yet to decide on a retrial, but we will continue to keep you updated as more information becomes available.

Carlton Gary Timeline
  • Murders in 1977-1978
  • Arrested in Albany on May 1984
  • Convicted and sentenced to death in 1986
  • Gary was granted a stay of execution hours before he was scheduled to die in 2009
  • Defense brings evidence for new trial in 2017

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