Georgia State sets execution date for Albany man Man was convicted of raping and fatally stabbing a woman

By Greg Bluestein

Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) -- Georgia officials set an execution date Thursday for an Albany man convicted of raping and stabbing a woman to death, a decision that came one day after the state executed inmate Troy Davis amid international protests.

Attorney General Sam Olens said the execution of inmate Marcus Ray Johnson has been scheduled for Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. Earlier in the day, Dougherty County Superior Court Judge Willie Lockette signed a death warrant allowing the execution to proceed.

Johnson was convicted of the March 24, 1994, murder of Angela Sizemore.

Witnesses told investigators that they saw Johnson and Sizemore, who was drunk, early in the morning at a bar, according to an appeals court that reviewed the case. They were seen leaving together. Later in the morning, a man walking his dog saw Sizemore's body lying inside her white Suburban behind an Albany apartment complex.

Two witnesses testified that they saw Johnson walking from the area where the victim's Suburban was parked. DNA testing found the victim's blood on Johnson's leather jacket, and authorities said his pocketknife matched wounds that were discovered on the victim's body. He also had scratches on his hands, arms and neck.

Investigators said evidence from Sizemore's body shows she was repeatedly stabbed with the dull knife and suffered severe internal injuries when she was sexually assaulted with a tree limb.

Johnson told police that he and the victim had sex and he "kind of lost it," according to statements cited in a court ruling. He said he punched Sizemore in the face, but said he left immediately afterward and denied intentionally killing her.

A panel on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year rejected an appeal from Johnson, who argued his original defense attorneys were ineffective because they failed to bring up evidence of his childhood struggles, including his father's abandonment of him when he was 15.

The Georgia Supreme Court earlier upheld his conviction and ruled against a similar appeal filed in the state court system. The U.S. Supreme Court has twice refused to hear his case.

The execution date for Johnson was set just hours after hundreds of people in Georgia protested the execution of Davis, who was convicted of the 1989 murder of off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail. Davis told witnesses to his execution late Wednesday that he was innocent, and his supporters said he was the victim of mistaken identity. Prosecutors and MacPhail's family said justice was finally served after years of delays.

Davis' execution sparked protests outside the Jackson prison where he was executed, in Savannah, outside the state Capitol in Atlanta and in Europe.

Published: Fri, Sep 23, 2011