DNA results raise doubts in Carlton Gary case

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

Updated by Web Staff

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – Results from DNA tests are raising doubts in the case against Carlton Gary, a Georgia inmate who was sentenced to death after he was convicted of strangling three elderly women with their stockings in the 1970s.

In a press conference at the Government Center Monday afternoon, District Attorney Julia Slater released the findings in the Carlton Gary case.

Gary was convicted in 1986 for three of the seven killings that happened in Columbus.

Slater says four pieces of evidence were analyzed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and out of those items, only one came back as a positive match to Gary.

According to Slater, DNA found in a vaginal test from Jean Dimenstein matches Gary. Gary is not convicted in her murder but her death was presented as a similar transaction in the case, she said.

Slater says another piece of evidence is inconclusive and two other items returned DNA profiles but Slater says they did not identify a particular suspect and did not match Carlton Gary.

"I am certainly relieved that Carlton Gary will no longer be able to say that he was framed, that he was not involved in these murders or even that he watched. Now that his DNA was found in the vaginal washing of Jean Dimenstein, there is no denying his capability," Slater said during the press conference in her office.

Slater has requested a status conference hearing on December 20th at  11 AM before Muscogee County Superior Court Judge Frank Jordan.

She does not know if Gary will be present at the hearing.

Gary's attorney, Jack Martin, had his own press conference Monday at the Public Defender's Office. He says the DNA findings help prove Gary's innocence. In one of the DNA tests, the results were not a match to Gary in a case he was convicted of and Martin says that means a rapist and murderer is still out at large. Martin says the state should focus on finding them.

"It raises doubts about the entire case. Even if you didn't say there was reasonable doubt, I believe there's more than reasonable doubt, I believe there's certainty that he's innocent of these cases but you surely wouldn't want to send someone to be executed when there's that much doubt in this case. At the very minimum, a new sentencing is required," he added.

Martin says he is filing the motion for a new trial for Carlton Gary next week.

Julia Slater has appointed a special prosecutor to Gary's case- Susan Boleyn. Boleyn has been the primary attorney for the State in the case against Carlton Gary since his conviction more than 24 years ago.

She says the DNA results in no way exonerate Gary and her office is exploring the effects of degradation and contamination since the evidence is more than 30 years old.

News Leader 9 is following this developing story. We'll have the latest information as soon as it becomes available.


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.
Authorities say they 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. 

Until recently, 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.

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