Supreme Court to decide on new trial for Columbus man convicted in 1977 rape, murder case

Supreme Court to decide on new trial for Columbus man convicted in 1977 rape, murder case

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - A man convicted of rape and murder in Columbus over 40 years ago may be getting a new trial.

63-year-old Johnny Lee Gates was convicted of the rape and murder of a white woman in 1977.

Physical evidence such as clothing that was allegedly used to bind the victim was found in 2015 by interns at the Georgia Innocence Project. The items were later tested for DNA and reports say Gates’s DNA was not on the clothing.

Between the new evidence and an all-white jury convicting an African American man in the 1970s, the Columbus NAACP president says there should be a new trial.

"It's just been bad since the beginning,” said Columbus NAACP president, L.K. Pendleton. A When the attorneys asked, because of the DNA evidence that was found, to grant Mr. Gates a new trial, Judge Allen did that. The DA immediately filed an appeal."

The appeal is going before the Georgia Supreme Court Tuesday morning.

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