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Johnny Lee Gates
Johnny Lee Gates
GEORGIA (USA): JOHNNY LEE GATES FREED AFTER 43 YEARS

May 19, 2020:

After 43 years in prison — more than 25 years of that on death row — Johnny Lee Gates walked out of custody on 15 May 2020 a free man. Gates was convicted during a 1977 trial of the rape, armed robbery and murder of a 19-year-old German immigrant who’d moved to Columbus 12 days earlier to be with her husband, a soldier at Fort Benning. But Gates’ lawyers later showed that prosecutors used blatant race discrimination during jury selection and persuaded the Georgia Supreme Court to grant Gates a new trial based on newly discovered DNA evidence.
“I’ve fought for 43 years for this day,” Gates said. “I always had faith it would come, even when others weren’t sure. I am an innocent man. I did not commit this crime. What happened to me is something that should never happen to any person. But I am not bitter. I thank God that I am here, and I am happy to be free.” On 15 May, Gates entered what’s called an “Alford plea” to involuntary manslaughter and armed robbery — a plea in which Gates did not admit to committing the crimes but conceded prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him. Gates was sentenced to 40 years for the 2 crimes. But since he had already spent all that time, plus an additional 3 years, behind bars, he received credit for time served. Gates confessed to police he’d committed the crimes, but his lawyers contended he had been coerced. At trial, prosecutors said Gates tightly bound murder victim Katharina Wright with a necktie and a belt from a bathrobe before killing her.
In 2015, representatives from the Georgia Innocence Project found those 2 pieces of evidence in the Muscogee County district attorney’s office in 2015, and Senior Judge John Allen allowed the items to be tested for DNA. A series of tests found the presence of DNA from as many as 5 individuals on the tie and belt — but not from Gates. This led Allen to grant Gates a new trial, a decision that was later upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court.
In its ruling on 13 March, the state high court said “the newly discovered DNA evidence now available to Gates casts significant doubt on the state’s theory that Gates was the perpetrator.” In his new trial order, Allen also condemned prosecutors’ strikes of prospective black jurors during jury selection, finding “undeniable” and “overwhelming” evidence of race discrimination.
Prosecutors' notes from the 1977 murder trial of Johnny Lee Gates in Columbus, Ga. show that all 4 black prospective jurors (marked with an N in the notes) were struck. Each name also has a 1 to the left of it, indicating that prosecutors found them least favorable. Two other white prospective jurors who were also struck are included here, with a note on one (Campbell, No. 15) saying that he was opposed but would grant the death penalty. Gates’ new legal team from the Georgia Innocence Project and the Southern Center for Human Rights found that Columbus prosecutors systematically excluded prospective black jurors in 7 death penalty cases, including Gates’, in the 1970s. Gates was initially sentenced to death during his 3-day trial in 1977. He was re-sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 2003.

(Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 16/05/2020)

NIGERIA: PASTOR SENTENCED TO DEATH BY HANGING FOR COMMITTING MURDER IN ONDO
IRAN: ROUHANI CALLS FOR STRICTER LAWS ON 'HONOR KILLINGS' AFTER KILLING OF 13-YEAR-OLD GIRL
SOMALIA: PUNTLAND MARTIAL COURT EXECUTES A SOLDIER CONVICTED OF MURDER
NEBRASKA (USA): STATE SUPREME COURT ORDERS RELEASE OF LETHAL-INJECTION DRUG RECORDS
IRAN: HANDS OFF CAIN, UNACCEPTABLE ANTI-ZIONIST LAW AND INTRODUCTION OF THE DEATH PENALTY TO HIT ISRAEL
PAKISTAN: YOUNAS MASIH, ASIA BIBI’S BROTHER-IN-LAW, KILLED IN SHEIKHUPURA
YEMEN: INTERNATIONAL OUTCRY OVER YEMENI JOURNALISTS FACING DEATH PENALTY
TEXAS (USA): RONALD PRIBLE COULD GO FREE WITHIN A MATTER OF MONTHS
NORTH KOREA: COUPLE EXECUTED FOR TRYING TO ESCAPE TO SOUTH DURING COVID-19 EMERGENCY
QATAR: NEPALI MAN SHOT TO DEATH AS PUNISHMENT FOR MURDER
USA: ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI SAYS HE IS RENOUNCING TERRORISM, AL-QAIDA AND THE ISLAMIC STATE
INDIA: UP COURT SENTENCES MAN TO DEATH FOR KILLING SIX PEOPLE
VIETNAM: SEVEN DRUG TRAFFICKERS SENTENCED TO DEATH
SAUDI ARABIA: KHASHOGGI'S SONS FORGIVE SAUDI KILLERS, SPARING 5 EXECUTION
IRAN: FRENCH-IRANIAN ACADEMIC FARIBA ADELKHAH SENTENCED TO SIX YEARS IN PRISON
VIETNAM: TWO MEN WERE SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING IN HANOI
OREGON (USA): DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS IS CLOSING DEATH ROW
MISSOURI (USA): WALTER BARTON EXECUTED
SINGAPORE SLAMMED FOR 'CRUEL' ZOOM DEATH SENTENCE
TAIWAN: AFTER 19 YEARS ON DEATH ROW, HSIEH CHIH-HUNG FREED
MALAYSIA: FEDERAL COURT UPHOLDS DEATH SENTENCE OF TWO MEN FOR MURDER
PAKISTAN: TWO SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR SEHWAN BLAST
ITALY: FROM ‘CRADLE’ TO ‘TOMB’ OF LAW?
SINGAPORE: DRUG OFFENDER GETS DEATH SENTENCE VIA REMOTE HEARING
THAILAND: MAN GETS DEATH FOR CADET'S MURDER
IRAN: ISJ LETTER TO MR CHARLES MICHEL, MR DAVID MARIA SASSOLI AND MR DAVID MCALLISTER
VIETNAM: THREE GET DEATH FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
SOMALIA: MILITARY COURT SENTENCES TWO GOV’T SOLDIERS TO DEATH
GHANA: JUSTICE HONYENUGA CALLS FOR THE REPEAL OF DEATH PENALTY
NIGERIA: TWO TO DIE BY HANGING FOR RITUAL KILLING IN RIVERS

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