21 January 2019 :
Citing Evidence of Innocence, Race Discrimination, Court Grants New Trial to Former Death-Row Prisoner Johnny Lee Gates. A Georgia judge has granted a new trial to Johnny Lee Gates based on new evidence that excludes him as the source of DNA on implements used by the killer during the November 30, 1976 rape and murder of Kathrina Wright, 19, White. Gates, now 64, Black, was convicted and sentenced to death on September 1977 by an all-white jury in a racially charged case. In 1992, Mr. Gates' case was sent back to Muscogee County for a new sentencing trial on the question of mental retardation. His death sentence was overturned in 2003 based upon evidence that he is intellectually disabled (IQ of 65), and he was resentenced to life. DNA testing disclosed that Gates’s DNA was not found on a necktie and the bathrobe belt the prosecution said were used by the killer during the murder. In a January 10, 2019, decision overturning Gates’s conviction, Senior Muscogee County Superior Court Judge John Allen credited the analysis of defense DNA expert Mark Perlin that Gates’s DNA was not present on the evidence. Judge Allen noted that Perlin had trained the two Georgia Bureau of Investigation scientists the prosecution relied upon in the most recent court proceedings in the case and that the testimony of the FBI witnesses supported Perlin's conclusions. Judge Allen wrote that “the exclusion of Gates’ profile to the DNA on the two items is material and may be considered exculpatory” and entitled Gates to a new trial.