Convicted Stocking Strangler Carlton Gary’s wife said Monday that her husband did not sign a “consent agreement” between prosecutors and defense attorneys to DNA-test evidence in the 1970s stranglings, and he feels his attorneys are ignoring him.
Debra Gary told reporters outside the Columbus Government Center that Gary did not sign the agreement last week to have a GBI crime lab test four pieces of evidence to see if they yield a DNA profile to compare to Gary’s. She also said Gary’s attorneys, Jack Martin and Michael McIntyre, aren’t representing him according to his wishes.
Debra Gary said the family wants DNA testing, but feels a scheduled hearing on the testing should have been held to resolve “chain of custody” and other issues regarding how the evidence is handled.
She showed reporters copies of a 10-page, handwritten letter addressed to Muscogee Superior Court Judge Frank Jordan and District Attorney Julia Slater. In the letter, Gary complained that his lawyers ignored his requests.
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“I was under the impression that I had a right to counsel, but when I speak of such, I am being told I would simply be ignored and signed to die,” Gary wrote.
Assisting in Gary’s defense is attorney Gary Parker, formerly of Columbus and now of Atlanta, who on Thursday visited Gary at Georgia’s death-row prison in Jackson, where the consent agreement was signed. Debra Gary would not say the signature on the agreement is fraudulent, only that it is not her husband’s.
Parker said Gary did sign the agreement, with the attorney present. “I would never present anything to the court that I knew was fraudulent,” Parker said.
After reading an online Ledger-Enquirer account of her press conference Monday night, Debra Gary sent an e-mail saying her views were misrepresented: “I am disappointed that you misrepresented what I said. You heard my whole speech, yet you only chose to mention things that makes it look like to the public that we don’t want DNA testing done, implying that we think my husband is guilty. You deliberately put the wrong slant on what I said today.”
Martin, who was appointed to represent Gary in federal court and has continued to represent him in state appeals, said Gary can seek new counsel, but that likely would delay further court proceedings as the new attorney got “up to speed” on the case.
“He can ask the judge, and it’s up to the judge,” Martin said of changing counsel. “I’ve no apologies for anything I’ve done to try to best represent him. I’m not going to get into a point-by-point discussion of everything he said in the letter. It doesn’t serve any useful purpose.”
As Gary’s attorneys are court-appointed, the government is paying for them, Martin said.
Parker said Gary is in a “very emotionally tense” situation: “I never have and never hope to be in a position where I am facing execution. And the kind of things that are coming up and coming out, people just get frustrated with this process, and they get upset. … There’s never much calm, particularly when you get this far in the situation.”
Slater announced Friday that the prosecution and defense had agreed on which evidence to test for DNA, precluding a hearing on the matter. Martin said the evidence chosen showed the presence of sperm, which is durable and can yield a profile decades later, so those items appeared most likely to produce a result. The agreement did not preclude testing other evidence, Martin said.
“There are other things we could test if these don’t work out,” he said.
Gary was convicted of murder in three of the seven “Stocking Stranglings” of 1977 and ’78. DNA evidence was not used in U.S. courts when he was tried in 1986.
Gary was four hours from dying of lethal injection on Dec. 16 when the Georgia Supreme Court, acting on a last-minute appeal from Martin, stayed the execution and ordered a hearing on DNA testing.