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30 years later, attorneys still argue over Stocking Stranglings

Looking Back: Carlton Gary and the Stocking Stranglings

Journalist and author Billy Winn, the former editorial page editor at The Ledger-Enquirer, shares his thoughts on Carlton Gary and the "Stocking Stanglings."
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Journalist and author Billy Winn, the former editorial page editor at The Ledger-Enquirer, shares his thoughts on Carlton Gary and the "Stocking Stanglings."

Thirty years after a jury convicted and sentenced Carlton Gary to death in three of Columbus’ seven heinous “Stocking Stranglings” of 1977-78, attorneys still argue over evidence in the case.

The latest piece in contention is a sketch artist’s rendering from a rape survivor who was under hypnosis as she described the man who attacked her.

Today, as Gary seeks a new trial or sentencing in the gruesome rapes and stranglings that terrorized the city from September 1977 to April 1978, that sketch is swept up in an intense battle over which elements of a massive case file should be subject to further review.

As so often has happened before in the saga of a career criminal who grew up in Columbus before prowling other places to steal, rob, rape and kill, just when the end appears near, the tale takes another turn.

Late last year the defense and prosecution filed what they thought would be their final arguments on Gary’s motion for a new trial: The prosecution filed Nov. 6; the defense Dec. 11. All that was left was to wait for Superior Court Judge Frank Jordan Jr. to issue a ruling.

Then the briefcase turned up.

The briefcase belonged to Don Miller, a sheriff’s investigator who died in 1983, a year before authorities finally tracked Gary down. Miller’s son-in-law, Doug Grubbs, found it in the attic, saw Stocking Strangler files in it, and turned it over to the sheriff’s office Jan. 11. Attorneys inspected it Feb. 3.

What ensued was a heated exchange over whether Gary’s defense had ever seen the files. By August, both sides agreed that it had — 20 years ago, during Gary’s early appeals in the 1990s.

Gary’s lead defense lawyer, Atlanta attorney John Martin, finally decided just one document from the briefcase should be added to the evidence Jordan is to consider: the sketch.

Prelude to terror

On Sept. 11, 1977, a friend coming to take 64-year-old Gertrude Miller to church found the home daycare owner had been brutally beaten with a board and raped in her 2703 Hood St. home. The assailant, who climbed in through her bedroom window, had left behind three stockings he took from her dresser and knotted.

Authorities later decided Miller was the first victim of the “Stocking Strangler,” so called because he so often used stockings to strangle women to death. The ritual serial killer also left his victims’ bodies covered.

He proved to be an ingenious burglar, who patiently took doors off their hinges and once disassembled a deadbolt lock improperly installed. In one break-in he removed burglar bars from a window and set them aside.

In the wake of Miller’s assault, police soon saw the horrors to come as four women ages 59 through 89 brutally were beaten, raped and strangled from Sept. 16 through Oct. 25, 1977, with more to follow.

Desperately seeking a suspect, detectives on Oct. 29, 1977, brought a hypnotist to see Gertrude Miller, who under his spell described the intruder she saw when he turned on a bedroom lamp.

Detectives took the sketch, dated Oct. 31, 1977, and filed it away. Though Gary’s defense attorney questioned Miller about it at the 1986 trial, when she identified Gary as her assailant, the sketch was never shown to the jury. It faded into the voluminous data that now constitutes the Stocking Strangler case file — until the briefcase turned up.

Now Martin wants it in evidence for Gary’s new trial motion. “This suspect looks nothing like the defendant,” he wrote Aug. 9. He has asked Jordan to hold a hearing on it.

“Everything’s on hold until the judge rules on this composite,” Martin said last week.

Should Jordan hold a hearing on the sketch, it further may delay an aging criminal case so often extended before.

District Attorney Julia Slater argued that the depiction is irrelevant. Miller herself said it didn’t look like the man who raped her, and even if the sketch wasn’t displayed during Gary’s trial, the defense knew it existed and questioned her about it on cross-examination.

Besides that, Gary wasn’t convicted of assaulting Miller, Slater noted. Like other attacks on older women in which Gary was implicated but not charged — including four of the seven stranglings — the Miller case was used at his trial as a “similar transaction,” evidence of Gary’s pattern of criminal conduct.

Martin has countered that because then-District Attorney Bill Smith maintained in 1986 that Gary alone committed all of the assaults and stranglings, any evidence clearing him in one case casts doubt on the others.

Casting doubt on Gary’s guilt has become a crusade for his supporters and others opposed to the death penalty.

Last chance

Today Gary is 65 years old, no longer the sleek, fashionable defendant who went on trial back in the 20th century. He remains on death row in the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, waiting to see if Martin’s last-ditch effort can gain him another chance.

“My sense is that this is Carlton’s last chance,” said British writer David Rose, author of the 2007 book “The Big Eddy Club,” which championed Gary as the victim of a racist judicial system that withheld exculpatory evidence to ensure his conviction.

Rose signed on as an investigator for Gary’s defense team to research the book and today maintains contact with those involved.

“My views on the case have never changed,” he said during a recent telephone interview.

Asked about Gary’s well-being, Rose said: “He’s not doing too good physically, and not very happy.” An attempted escape at the prison about 10 years ago prompted administrators to clamp down on the time inmates get outside their cells, he said.

Rose said Martin’s December motion is Gary’s best shot at escaping lethal injection, a fate he already dodged once before.

“It’s one of the strongest legal motions I’ve ever seen,” the author said.

And the sketch would only bolster it, said Martin: “I thought we had a compelling case already. This was just gravy.”

Dodging the needle

The last time Gary narrowly escaped death was Dec. 16, 2009, when the Georgia Supreme Court issued a last-minute stay of his execution, sending the case back to Muscogee Superior Court to consider DNA-testing suitable evidence.

After reviewing the evidence, prosecutors and defense attorneys on Feb. 19, 2010, agreed to test four items from three of the seven stranglings for DNA. The hope was that this would settle Gary’s guilt or innocence once and for all.

Instead it caused more confusion:

On Dec. 14, 2010, attorneys said the initial DNA test results matched Gary to the Sept. 24, 1977, rape and strangling of Jean Dimenstein, but not the Oct. 25, 1977, murder of Martha Thurmond. The defense then sought testing on clothes police collected from Gertrude Miller the morning after she was raped and beaten.

On March 6, 2012, attorneys said tests of the Miller evidence yielded a DNA profile that did not match Gary.

On Nov. 21, 2013, Slater announced the Thurmond DNA test was tainted at the state crime lab and thus invalid. The flawed test used up the crime scene sample police had collected.

The defense was aghast: The Thurmond evidence had been the most promising, more likely than any of the rest to yield a clean DNA profile.

The error had a secondary effect: If the GBI fouled the Thurmond evidence, who could say the Dimenstein test was accurate? Perhaps it also was tainted.

The forensic evidence has become a muddle that fogs the pattern of Gary’s life of crime, much of which Smith laid out during the 1986 trial.

Thirty years ago, the evidence against Gary was not as much forensic as circumstantial: matters of place and time that if coincidental, were remarkably so:

Wherever Gary went, older women were raped and strangled.

The timeline

Born Sept. 24, 1950, in Columbus, Gary at age 16 moved with his mother to Fort Myers and later Gainesville, Fla., before heading to New York, where the trail of assaults attributed to him began:

▪ On April 14, 1970, Nellie Farmer, 85, was found raped and strangled and her body left covered in her home in the Wellington Hotel in Albany, N.Y. Police found Gary’s fingerprint at the scene. Gary claimed another man killed Farmer and was convicted only of robbery. He was released from prison March 31, 1975, and moved to Syracuse, NY.

▪ On June 27, 1975, Marion Fisher, 40, was found raped and strangled on a road just outside Syracuse. Investigators in 2007 said they matched Gary’s DNA to the cold-case evidence. Unknown to local authorities at the time of Gary’s 1986 trial, this is not in evidence here.

▪ On Jan. 2, 1977, Jean Frost, 55, was raped and nearly choked to death in her home in Syracuse. Gary had a watch taken from Frost’s home when police arrested him two days later. Again he blamed another man for the assault. He was charged with perjury, assault and possessing stolen property. He escaped from prison Aug. 23, 1977, and came home to Columbus to live at 1027 Fisk Ave.

▪ On Sept. 11, 1977, Gertrude Miller was raped and beaten. Gary lived about two blocks away.

▪ On Sept. 16, 1977, Mary Willis “Fern” Jackson, 59, of 2505 17th St., was found brutally beaten, raped and strangled with a stocking and sash. Her body was left covered. Her stolen car was later found on Benner Avenue near Fisk Avenue.

▪ On Sept. 24, 1977, Jean Dimenstein, 71, was found raped and strangled with a stocking in her home that then had the address 3027 21st St. (the street has since been renamed). Her body was left covered with sheets and a pillow.

▪ On Oct. 21, 1977, Florence Scheible, 89, was found raped and strangled with a stocking in her 1941 Dimon St. home, which today has a different address. Her body was left covered. Gary’s right thumbprint was found on a door frame leading into Scheible’s bedroom.

▪ On Oct. 25, 1977, Martha Thurmond, 70, was found raped and strangled with a stocking in her 2614 Marion St. home. Her body was covered by a pillow, blankets and sheets. Gary’s fingerprint was found on the frame of a rear bedroom window.

▪ On Dec. 28, 1977, Kathleen Woodruff, 74, was found raped and strangled in her 1811 Buena Vista Road home, which later was demolished during an Aflac expansion. Gary’s fingerprint was found on the aluminum window screen where the intruder entered, and his palm print on the windowsill inside.

▪ On Feb. 11, 1978, Ruth Schwob, 74, of 1800 Carter Ave., was nearly strangled to death by an intruder she fought off, pressing a panic alarm by her bed. Police found her sitting on the edge of her bed, gasping, a stocking wrapped around her neck.

▪ On Feb. 12, 1978, Mildred Borom, 78, 1612 Forest Ave., about two blocks from Schwob’s home, was found raped and strangled with a cord cut from window blinds. Her body was covered with a dress.

▪ On April 20, 1978, Janet Cofer, 61, of 3783 Steam Mill Road, was found raped and strangled with a stocking. A pillow covered her face.

After that, the stranglings abruptly ended. Police said Gary switched to robbing restaurants and moved to Greenville, S.C., where that fall he earned the nickname “Steakhouse Bandit.” He went to jail for armed robbery Feb. 22, 1979.

He escaped March 15, 1984, and returned to Georgia, where authorities arrested him in Albany the following May 3.

On Aug. 26, 1986, a jury found him guilty of killing Scheible, Thurmond and Woodruff. The next day jurors sentenced him to death.

What happens next?

Investigators collected some evidence that doesn’t fit Gary, his defense team argues. A shoeprint at the Farmer crime scene was too small for Gary’s size 13½ feet. So was a shoeprint on the air-conditioning unit the intruder stood upon to climb into Schwob’s window.

Blood evidence prosecutors used to tie Gary to the murders actually excluded him as the strangler, his attorneys said. And though police claimed to have found his fingerprints, they did not photograph those prints to pinpoint their location, and they had no objective standard for establishing a match.

A mold made from a bite mark found on Cofer’s breast doesn’t match Gary’s teeth, the defense said. Though Gary had dental work in prison, the work was on his upper teeth, not his lower. The mold shows the killer had a lower, rotated tooth Gary doesn’t have.

The bite-mark mold wasn’t shown to the jury during Gary’s trial. It turned up in 2005, bolstering defense claims that prosecutors withheld crucial evidence back in 1986.

District Attorney Julia Slater declined to be interviewed for this story, but she offered a written statement:

“The state remains confident in the validity of the convictions and sentences returned by the jury against Carlton Gary in 1986. Post-conviction DNA results have established that Carlton Gary’s DNA was found in the vaginal washing of Jean Dimenstein and no new evidence has been discovered that would raise any doubt about the jury’s decision. The case has been back with the Superior Court of Muscogee County for six and a half years and the extraordinary motion for new trial has been pending for four years. The state will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the jury’s verdict is upheld and the sentence carried out.”

Asked whether he ever expected Gary’s appeals to go on this long, his defense attorney said: “I always thought this case would go on forever.”

Regardless of Jordan’s ruling on the new trial motion, it will be appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court. The end is not in sight.

Billy Winn, a former Ledger-Enquirer editorial-page editor who covered Gary’s trial and spent 10 years researching the case, is among those who believe Gary is guilty.

“He probably killed more often than we know,” Winn said last week. But he’s not surprised Gary has persuaded others he’s innocent. “Nothing in this case surprises me anymore,” he said.

“What he was, was a polished con man,” Winn said. “He could confound anybody. If he hadn’t been a killer, he could have been the greatest salesman on earth.”

Though Winn found David Rose’s book outrageous and infuriating, the two writers have something in common: Neither believes in the death penalty.

What should happen?

Said Winn: “I would just like to see Carlton go away, by however that may be.”

Carlton Gary timeline

This timeline was compiled from Columbus police, court records and Ledger-Enquirer archives:

  • Sept. 24, 1950, Carlton Michael Gary is born in Columbus, Ga., where he lives until age 16, when he moves with his mother to Fort Myers, Fla., and later Gainesville, Fla.
  • Sept. 3, 1964, Gary attends Carver High School.
  • Nov. 18, 1965, Gary attends Spencer High School.
  • Jan. 31, 1966, Gary returns to Carver High School and later transfers to Dunbar High School in Fort Myers, Fla.
  • Oct. 31, 1967, Gary’s charged with breaking into an automobile in Gainesville, Fla.
  • March 17, 1968, Gary’s charged with arson in Gainesville, Fla.
  • Nov. 26, 1969, Gary’s charged with assaulting a police officer in Bridgeport, Conn.
  • April 14, 1970, Nellie Farmer, 85, is raped and strangled and her body left covered in her home in the Wellington Hotel, Albany, N.Y. Gary’s fingerprint is found at the scene. Gary claims another man killed Farmer, and is convicted only of robbery.
  • July 15, 1970, Gary’s sentenced to 10 years in prison for robbery.
  • March 31, 1975, Gary is released from prison and moves to Syracuse, N.Y.
  • June 27, 1975, the body of Marion Fisher, 40, is found on a road just outside Syracuse. She was raped and strangled. Authorities in 2007 say they match Gary’s DNA to the cold-case evidence.
  • July 25, 1975, Gary’s charged with escape, resisting arrest and violating parole.
  • July 17, 1976, Gary’s released on parole.
  • Sept. 3, 1976, Gary’s charged with assault.
  • Jan. 2, 1977, Jean Frost, 55, is raped and nearly choked to death in her home in Syracuse, N.Y. Gary has a watch taken from Frost’s home when police arrest him two days later. Again he blames another man for the assault. He is charged with possessing stolen property, resisting arrest, perjury and assault.
  • Aug. 23, 1977, Gary escapes from New York’s Onandaga County prison by jumping from a third-floor window. He goes home to Columbus, where he soon moves to 1027 Fisk Ave.
  • Sept. 11, 1977, Gertrude Miller, 64, is beaten with a board and raped in her 2703 Hood St. home, about two blocks from Fisk Avenue. Her assailant leaves behind knotted stockings he took from her dresser. She in 1986 identifies Gary as the rapist.
  • Sept. 16, 1977, Mary Willis “Fern” Jackson, 59, of 2505 17th St., is found brutally beaten, raped and strangled with a stocking and sash. Her body is left covered. Her stolen car is later found on Benner Avenue near Fisk Avenue.
  • Sept. 24, 1977, Jean Dimenstein, 71, is found raped and strangled with a stocking in her home that then had the address 3027 21st St. (the street has since been renamed). Her body was left covered with sheets and a pillow Later tests match Gary’s DNA to crime-scene evidence.
  • Oct. 4, 1977, Gary moves to 3231 Old Buena Vista Road.
  • Oct. 8, 1977, the 1427 Eberhart Avenue home of sisters Callye East, 75, and Nellie Sanderson, 78, is burglarized. Sanderson’s son Henry is visiting. The intruder steals his Toyota, which has a .22-caliber Ruger pistol under the seat. The car’s left on Buena Vista Road.
  • Oct. 21, 1977, Florence Scheible, 89, is found raped and strangled with a stocking in her 1941 Dimon St. home, which today has a different address. Her body was left covered. Gary's right thumbprint was found on a door frame leading into Scheible's bedroom.
  • Oct. 25, 1977, Martha Thurmond, 70, is found raped and strangled with a stocking in her 2614 Marion St. home. Her body was covered by a pillow, blankets and sheets. Gary's fingerprint is found on the frame of a rear bedroom window.
  • Nov. 11, 1977, Gary moves to 2829 Ninth St. and gets a job working the late shift at Golden’s Foundry.
  • Dec. 16, 1977, Gary leaves the foundry job.
  • Dec. 20, 1977, the 1710 Buena Vista Road home of William Swift is burglarized while the residents are away. Swift later discovers the burglar removed bars from a kitchen window to get in, then set the bars back on the windowsill. Detectives later say Swift never told police this; Gary did.
  • Dec. 28, 1977, Kathleen Woodruff, 74, is found raped and strangled in her 1811 Buena Vista Road home, which later was demolished during an Aflac expansion. Gary's right little fingerprint is found on the aluminum window screen where the intruder entered, and his palm print is found on the windowsill just inside.
  • Jan. 1, 1978, the 2021 Brookside Drive home of Abraham Illges, who is 85 and whose wife is 75, is burglarized and a Cadillac stolen. The car’s left at a restaurant on Victory Drive. Police say Gary later refers to this home as “the castle.”
  • Feb. 11, 1978, Ruth Schwob, 74, of 1800 Carter Ave., is nearly strangled to death by an intruder she fights off, pressing a panic alarm by her bed. Police find her sitting on the edge of her bed, gasping, a stocking wrapped around her neck.
  • Feb. 11, 1978, the Illges home is burglarized again, but the intruder triggers an alarm and flees. Police said Gary later told them he ran and hid in Wildwood Park.
  • Feb. 12, 1978, Mildred Borom, 78, 1612 Forest Ave., about two blocks from Schwob’s home on the west side of Wildwood Park, is found raped and strangled with a cord cut from window blinds. Her body’s covered with a garment. This series of rapid events becomes known as “The Night of Terrors.”
  • April 20, 1978, Janet Cofer, 61, of 3783 Steam Mill Road, is found raped and strangled with a stocking. A pillow covers her face. Police find Cofer’s stolen car on Mill Road.
  • April 20, 1978, Gary robs the Burger King at 3520 Macon Road.
  • May 14, 1978, Gary robs the Hungry Hunter restaurant at 1834 Midtown Drive.
  • Sept. 4, 1978, Gary robs the Western Sizzlin restaurant at 4385 Victory Drive.
  • Sept. 22, 1978, Gary robs the Talk of the Town restaurant in Greenville, S.C.
  • Oct. 8, 1978, Gary robs the Ryan’s Steakhouse in Greenville.
  • Oct. 19, 1978, Gary robs the Western Sizzlin steakhouse in Greenville.
  • Nov. 5, 1978, Gary robs the Po’ Folks restaurant in Greenville.
  • Dec. 7, 1978, Gary robs Jack’s Steak House in Greenville.
  • Feb. 15, 1979, having earned the nickname “Steakhouse Bandit,” Gary robs a Po’ Folks restaurant in Gafney, S.C., and is arrested the next day.
  • Feb. 22, 1979, Gary is convicted of armed robbery in Greenville County, S.C.
  • March 29, 1979, Gary is convicted of armed robbery in Cherokee County, S.C.
  • March 15, 1984, he escapes from a prison in Columbia, S.C., and returns to Columbus.
  • April 3, 1984, Gary robs a Po’ Folks restaurant on the 280 Bypass in Phenix City and rapes a woman who works there.
  • April 10, 1984, Henry Sanderson calls Columbus police to ask about the Ruger pistol taken from his Toyota in the 1977 Eberhart Avenue burglary. A detective sends out a nationwide alert for the gun, which turns up in Michigan and is traced back to Gary.
  • April 16, 1984, Gary robs a Wendy’s restaurant in Gainesville, Fla.
  • April 22, 1984, Gary robs a McDonald’s restaurant in Montgomery, Ala.
  • April 28, 1984, Gary robs the County Seat Store in the Oaks Mall of Gainesville, Fla.
  • April 30, 1984, prompted by Sanderson’s call and the gun trace, copies of Gary’s fingerprints arrive at the Columbus Police Department, where one is matched to a print found on the frame of a screen removed from Woodruff’s home.
  • May 3, 1984, authorities arrest Gary in Albany, Ga.
  • May 4, 1984, from around midnight until 3:30 a.m., Gary takes investigators on a tour of homes he tells them he broke into. He blames the stranglings on another man.
  • May 8, 1984, Gary attempts suicide in jail.
  • May 9, 1984, then Superior Court Judge John Land appoints attorneys William Kirby and Stephen Hyles to represent Gary.
  • Aug. 28, 1984, attorney August “Bud” Siemon becomes Gary’s lead defense counsel.
  • Oct. 11, 1984, attorney Bruce Harvey becomes Gary’s co-counsel. Attorney Gary Parker joins the defense team the following December.
  • Feb. 8, 1985, Siemon files a motion asking Judge Land to recuse himself because he has personal knowledge of the case. Land recuses himself.
  • May 13, 1985, Judge E. Mullins Whisnant is assigned the case.
  • May 22, 1985, Siemon files a motion asking Whisnant to recuse himself because he was the district attorney during the strangling.
  • May 20, 1985, Whisnant recuses himself and the case is assigned to Judge Kenneth Followill.
  • Dec. 18, 1985, Parker withdraws as co-counsel after Followill refuses to grant the defense team funds for an investigator.
  • Dec. 29, 1985, Gary tries to escape from jail.
  • March 10, 1986, on the day Gary’s trial is to start, he refuses to get dressed and come to court. Harvey files a motion questioning Gary’s competency to stand trial, saying the defendant’s mental health is in decline. Followill orders a psychological evaluation.
  • March 24, 1986, Gary goes to Georgia Central State Hospital in Milledgeville for his evaluation, but refuses to cooperate with doctors.
  • April 21, 1986, Followill holds a trial to determine Gary’s mental competency.
  • April 28, 1986, the jury finds Gary competent for trial.
  • June 9, 1986, Gary’s trial is set to begin, but Siemon files for a change of venue.
  • July 2, 1986, Followill decides that instead of moving the trial, the court will bring jurors from Griffin, Ga., to hear the case.
  • July 7, 1986, Harvey withdraws, leaving Siemon as Gary’s only lawyer.
  • Aug. 11, 1986, Gary’s trial begins.
  • Aug. 26, 1986, the jury finds Gary guilty in three of the seven stranglings, though then District Attorney Bill Smith maintains one perpetrator committed all seven along with the attack on Miller and Schwob. Smith used evidence from the other cases to illustrate a pattern of criminal behavior.
  • Aug. 27, 1986, the jury sentences Gary to death.
  • Sept. 25, 1986, Gary moves for a new trial. His motion’s denied the following Oct. 18, and he appeals to the Georgia Supreme Court.
  • June 26, 1987, the Georgia Supreme Court sends the case back to Columbus, instructing the court here to determine whether Gary had ineffective counsel.
  • Nov. 4, 1987, Followill holds hearings to determine the effectiveness of Gary’s defense.
  • June 12, 1989, Followill rules Gary failed to show his counsel was ineffective.
  • March 6, 1990, the Georgia Supreme court upholds Followill’s ruling and reaffirms Gary’s conviction and death sentence.
  • Jan. 27, 1995, the superior court of Butts County, Ga., where Gary is imprisoned, rejects one of his habeas corpus appeals.
  • Nov. 13, 1995, the court rejects another of Gary’s habeas corpus appeals.
  • Nov. 18, 1997, Gary files a habeas corpus appeal in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.
  • Sept. 28, 2004, the federal court rejects Gary’s appeal, and he appeals to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Nov. 9, 2005, then-Coroner James Dunnavant finds a bite-cast mold made from teeth marks on Janet Cofer’s body. It has been missing since Dunnavant’s predecessor Don Kilgore died.
  • Nov. 23, 2005, the appeals court sends the case back to U.S. District Court to consider the bite-mark evidence.
  • Feb. 14, 2007, the district court holds a hearing and decides the bite cast would not have bolstered Gary’s defense and again rejects his appeal. Gary again appeals to the 11th Circuit.
  • Feb. 12, 2009, the 11th Circuit rejects Gary’s appeal. He appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Dec. 1, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear Gary’s appeal. His execution is set for the following Dec. 16.
  • Dec. 16, 2009, Gary is hours away from execution when the Georgia Supreme Court issues a stay and sends the case back to Muscogee Superior Court to consider DNA testing evidence.
  • Feb. 19, 2010, prosecutors and defense attorneys agree to DNA test suitable evidence samples, four items from three cases: Dimenstein, Scheible and Woodruff.
  • Dec. 14, 2010, attorneys say the initial DNA test results match Gary to the murder of Jean Dimenstein but not Martha Thurmond. The defense seeks testing on clothes from Gertrude Miller the morning after she was raped and beaten.
  • March 6, 2012, tests of the Miller evidence yield a DNA profile that does not match Gary. The prosecution says the defense can’t prove Miller was wearing the garments when raped.
  • Nov. 21, 2013, District Attorney Julia Slater announces the Thurmond DNA test was tainted at the state crime lab and thus invalid.
  • February 24-28, 2014, Judge Frank Jordan Jr. holds evidentiary hearings on Gary’s new trial motion.
  • June 16, 2015, defense files briefs based on the hearing.
  • Aug. 17, 2015, the state files its response to the defense.
  • Nov. 6, 2015, the prosecution files its motion opposing a new trial.
  • Dec. 11, 2015, the defense files its response to the state.
  • Jan. 11, 2016, Doug Grubbs, son-in-law of sheriff’s investigator Don Miller, in the attic finds a briefcase containing files on the stranglings and turns it over to the sheriff’s office.
  • Jan. 27, the defense is told of the briefcase.
  • Feb. 3, both sides meet to inspect the documents.
  • April 29, defense files motions based on the briefcase evidence. It amends its motions on May 30, Aug. 9 and Aug. 11.
  • Aug. 19, the prosecution responds, leaving Judge Jordan to decide whether to hold an evidentiary hearing on a composite sketch found in the briefcase

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