Results from a DNA test on evidence from a 1977 rape that preceded Columbus’ Stocking Stranglings do not match convicted strangler Carlton Gary, his attorney said today.
The testing conducted by the Bode Technology Group of Lorton, Va., found sperm cells on a slip Gertrude Miller was wearing when she was raped and beaten by an intruder in her Hood Street home in September 1977, said Atlanta attorney Jack Martin. Those cells yielded a partial DNA profile that did not match Carton Gary, Martin said.
In response to these new results, District Attorney Julia Slater issued this written statement:
"Nearly thirty-five years after Ms. Gertrude Miller was brutally beaten and sexually assaulted, results of DNA testing of clothing Ms. Miller possibly wore around the time of her attack are now complete. It is the State’s understanding that the defense has now concluded their requests for testing in this case. Presumably, Mr. Gary will request hearing regarding the completed DNA testing. The State is limited in its ability to comment about this testing and other evidence. However, on behalf of the victims and their families, the State eagerly anticipates discussing in court the results of DNA testing, responding to the rhetoric from Mr. Gary’s defense team, and again showing why the jury’s decision in this case must be upheld."
This is the second time a DNA mismatch has turned up since testing on such evidence began in early 2010, after the Georgia Supreme Court stayed Gary’s execution in December 2009 and ordered a Muscogee Superior Court judge to consider DNA testing, which prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to in February 2010.
DNA derived from the rape and strangling of Martha Thurmond also did not match Gary. DNA from the rape and strangling of Jean Dimenstein did.
Gary was convicted of Thurmond’s murder, but not Dimenstein’s. He was never charged with Miller’s assault, but prosecutors used it to show his pattern of criminal conduct, and had Miller identify Gary as her assailant during his 1986 trial. Miller has died since then.
Last year Muscogee Superior Court Judge Frank Jordan Jr. ordered additional testing at Bode after an initial round of tests conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found no semen on the clothing 64-year-old Miller wore to St. Francis Hospital after an intruder raped her Sept. 11, 1977, in her 2703 Hood St. home.
A GBI report on the agency's results, dated Nov. 7, 2011, said the lab on Sept. 12 received three pieces of evidence, a white sleeping gown, a white slip and underwear. “Chemical examination of stains on the clothing fails to reveal the presence of seminal fluid,” the report concluded.
DNA tests the GBI conducted in 2010 matched Gary’s DNA profile to evidence from the Sept. 24, 1977, rape and strangling of Dimenstein, 71, of 3027 21st St., but not to semen collected in the case of Thurmond, 69, who was found beaten, raped and strangled Oct. 25, 1977, in her 2614 Marion St. home.
Gary today remains on Georgia’s death row in Jackson. He was just hours away from execution Dec. 16, 2009, when the state Supreme Court issued a stay. The defense and prosecution came to a consent agreement on DNA testing on Feb. 19, 2010.
Besides Thurmond, the other two stranglings for which Gary ws convicted were those of Florence Scheible, 89, of 1941 Dimon St., on Oct. 21, 1977; and Kathleen Woodruff, 74, of 1811 Buena Vista Road, on Dec. 28, 1977.
Besides Dimenstein, the stranglings in which Gary was not convicted were of Ferne Jackson, 60, of 2505 17th St., on Sept. 15, 1977; Mildred Borom, 78, of 1612 Forest Ave., on Feb. 12, 1978; and Janet Cofer, 61, of 3783 Steam Mill Road, on April 20, 1978.
Though prosecutors chose to pursue Gary's conviction in three of the stranglings, they maintained throughout his trial that only one perpetrator committed all seven of the serial killings and the assault on Miller.