Crime

Watch attorneys argue Johnny Lee Gates case in front of Supreme Court of Georgia

He’s been a convicted killer for 40 years. Now, Columbus court will decide if racism helped put him in prison

Attorneys for Johnny Lee Gates presented evidence Monday they say shows prosecutors here in the 1970s demonstrated “a systematic pattern of discrimination” in keeping black residents off juries of death-penalty cases of black defendants.
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Attorneys for Johnny Lee Gates presented evidence Monday they say shows prosecutors here in the 1970s demonstrated “a systematic pattern of discrimination” in keeping black residents off juries of death-penalty cases of black defendants.

Forty-two years after he was convicted in a trial that since has raised allegations of racial discrimination and police misconduct, Johnny Lee Gates still waits to have his fate decided by the Georgia Supreme Court, which will hear arguments Tuesday in the 1970s Columbus murder case.

The court has set oral arguments for 10 a.m. Tuesday in its courtroom at 40 Capitol Square in Atlanta, where court sessions are streamed live online from the Supreme Court website. Four cases are on the docket and Gates’ case is not expected to be heard until about 11 a.m.

Click here to watch the livestream.

Gates was convicted and sentenced to death in the Nov. 30, 1976, rape and murder of Katharina Wright, 19, found bound and shot in the head in the Broadway apartment she shared with her husband, a Fort Benning soldier the German woman had just married.

The court will decide whether Gates is entitled to a new trial because DNA evidence from bindings used to restrain Wright does not match Gates.

The case is on appeal from Muscogee Superior Court, where Judge John Allen decided Jan. 10 that Gates should get a new trial based on DNA evidence from the crime scene.

The Ledger-Enquirer has reported extensively on this case since 2015 and will have coverage later today out of the hearing. Read more about the case below:

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