Defense for 'Stocking Strangler' wants new trial - WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

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Defense for 'Stocking Strangler' wants new trial

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Gary smiled at his wife as he walked into court Monday Gary smiled at his wife as he walked into court Monday
COLUMBUS, Ga. - Monday defense attorneys began their pursuit of a retrial for Carlton Gary, the man sentenced to death for killing women in their Columbus homes in the 1970's.

It has been 36 years since a serial killer struck fear into the hearts of many in Columbus. Carlton Gary was convicted of three of the stranglings in 1986, but now his defense team says they can prove he's innocent.

Gary walked into the courtroom blowing a kiss to his wife and daughter and smiling. Attorney Jack Martin spent hours working to convince Judge Frank Jordan to retry the case based on three main points:
  • A footprint left at one of the scenes that is a different size than Gary's
  • A bite mark found on one of the victims that the defense claims is not a forensic match to Gary
  • Contaminated DNA testing at the GBI crime lab
District Attorney Julia Slater argued that there was no truly new evidence, but Judge Jordan allowed the defense to present its witnesses, who included Dr. Greg Hampikian, a DNA expert who worked on the Amanda Knox trial, among many others. He said the testing done on the old seminal evidence was not analyzed with the most advanced technology, and that after retesting, two separate spots of semen found on the clothing of victim Gertrude Miller were not a genetic match to Carlton Gary.

Martin asked Hampikian, "To a reasonable degree of scientific certainty based on DNA, the individual who left sperm on Ms. Miller's clothing at the time of her rape was not Mr. Gary?"

"The sperm on the stains is not from Mr. Gary," Hampikian responded. "That's what I would say."

Dr. Hampikian also said that a new analysis of semen left on Martha Thurmond's body didn't match Gary either.

Gary's wife Debra is optimistic about getting a new trial. "It's a good thing," she says. "This is what we've wanted ever since they wrongly arrested, convicted my husband of it. All we wanted was to have a fair opportunity to present the truth."

She adds that her husband remains in good spirits despite the the decades behind bars. She says, "For him it's probably frustrating for him to sit up and hear somebody say things that you know are not true and not be able to say anything about it, but he's good."

Attorneys expect the hearing to last at least through Wednesday.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.

James Brierton

James joined WRBL News 3 with experience from CNN, NBC News and his own hyper-local news site. He manages the WRBL News 3 Web desk. More>>

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