Marcus Ray Johnson had been scheduled for execution in Georgia Wednesday evening
A judge issued a stay of execution on Tuesday based on new evidence
The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the stay, and Johnson will have a hearing in February
A stay of execution for a man scheduled to die by lethal injection Wednesday evening in Georgia has been upheld by the state’s Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, a lower court delayed the execution of Marcus Ray Johnson, 46, after new evidence in the case surfaced.
Johnson’s lawyers had filed an emergency motion requesting a new trial and time to conduct DNA testing after evidence was recently produced by police in Albany, Georgia.
Dougherty County Superior Court Judge Willie Lockette granted the stay, and set a hearing scheduled for February 1, 2012, on Johnson’s motion for additional testing.
The Georgia Supreme Court agreed with the lower court in an unanimous ruling.
Johnson was convicted and sentenced to death for the March 1994 rape and murder of Angela Sizemore in Albany, Georgia.
Human rights group Amnesty International praised the stay, based on doubt raised about Johnson’s guilt and the emergence of evidence that had not yet been analyzed.
“Amnesty International hopes that this is a sign that there is greater concern in Georgia about the fallibility of the death penalty, especially on the heels of the outrageous and unnecessary execution of Troy Davis.”
Georgia inmate Troy Davis died by lethal injection two weeks ago in a contentious case that traveled up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Davis’ supporters argued that his conviction for the 1989 murder of Mark MacPhail, an off-duty Savannah police officer, was based on the testimony of numerous witnesses who had recanted, including a jailhouse informer who claimed Davis had confessed.
CNN’s Vivian Kuo contributed to this report.