Marcus Ray Johnson is scheduled for execution Thursday night in Georgia, and both the state and the family of the woman he killed say it’s past time for justice to be served.
Johnson’s attorney, however, is adamant his client did not kill 21 years ago.
Brian Kammer, a veteran in post-conviction capital defense, says his client’s case is unlike others he has had.
“The lack of physical evidence is extremely troubling,” said Kammer. “The prosecution compensated for the lack of direct evidence by making extremely inflammatory arguments to the jury.”
The trial judge noted to the Georgia Supreme Court after the trial that, while the evidence was “sufficient to sustain the conviction, (it) does not foreclose all doubt respecting the defendant’s guilt.”
But he also wrote a death sentence was appropriate.
Former Daugherty County District Attorney Ken Hodges, says claims of Johnson’s innocence are "little more than hogwash, unsupported lies just to save his soul.”
Johnson admitted to police he had sexual relations with Angela Sizemore, a woman he met in an Albany bar just hours before her battered and bloody body was discovered on March 24, 1994.
But, he said, she was alive when he left her sitting in a field and crying.
Hodges says there is no question Johnson did it.
“He raped her. He mutilated her body and he killed her. About that I have no doubt,” he said. “You’d have to be less than human to do what he did to her.”
The victim’s family agrees with Hodges.
“They are grasping at straws,” said Sizemore’s daughter Katherine Barker, who was 5 years old when her mother was killed. “There is evidence that puts Johnson at the crime and not just eyewitnesses…. I’m not a bloodthirsty person but I do believe my mom deserves justice.”
Johnson was shooting pool when an inebriated Sizemore walked into a west Albany bar just after midnight that fateful night.
They met. They drank. They danced. And after spending a while kissing in a back booth, they left the bar for a nearby field where they had sex.
A few hours later, a man walking his dog discovered the 35-year-old woman’s body in her SUV, parked miles away beside a retention pond.
Kammer said there would have been “substantial amounts of blood” on her killer and not the single drop they found on Johnson’s leather jacket.
Johnson, now 50, told police he couldn’t remember much from those early morning hours because he was drunk. He said he woke up in the front yard of his house after daybreak.
In 2011, Johnson came within hours of execution before a Dougherty County judge stopped it to hold a hearing about a box of untested evidence that was found 17 years after the crime.
During that hearing, witness Janice Parsons provided information Johnson’s lawyers said suggested someone else could have killed Sizemore.
Parsons said her boyfriend and Sizemore were longtime partners in a drug business. She said her boyfriend gave Sizemore $3,000 in cash for a load of marijuana that she had brought from Florida to be sold in Albany. The cash was never recovered.
That suggestion angers the victim’s daughter.
“My mom was a good mom,” Baker said. “He’s making her out to be this person wheeling and dealing. If it was a drug deal gone bad, who would want to torture my mom? Johnson tortured my mom death.”