July 2016

On June 28, 2016 I got a letter from the Georgia Innocence Project telling me of the testing results. The evidence was found by two college students in summer 2015 at the District Attorney office in a box. They found a manila envelope with a white robe belt and a black tie that was used to tie up the victim.

The State has been saying for 36 years that all evidence had been destroyed. In 2011 court hearing, I was arguing that there was semen evidence found on the victim’s bath robe that didn't belong to me. The State stated in court that they determined that the semen evidence belonged to the victim’s husband. (In trial this semen belonged to Johnny Gates…) I was arguing the white male blond pubic hair that was found in the State court 2011. Said that the hair belong to the victim husband.

Last year December 2015 the State said that they had this evidence in 2003, when we (my lawyers Ronald J. Tabak, George H.Kendall, Gary Parker, Laura Fernandez and I). were trying to find any evidence from the crime. The State fought really hard to get the court to end this fight, but my lawyers would not back down; only fight harder. The state, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Columbus Police Department, the District Attorney office, all said that the evidence had been destroyed that nothing is left.

The test result from the evidence that was found last year in the District Attorney office:
“There is a mixed sample of DNA that came from at least three individuals. We have requested the raw DNA data from the GBI, so that a defense expert can review it. The GBI report also says that due to the complexity of the mixtures, the DNA profiles obtained from the items are not eligible for entry into the DNA database.”

I never believed that they would come out and say that this is not Johnny Gates’ DNA. Not after all these years of fighting me and saying that it is me. But they do know that it is not that of me. If I had been white or had money I would have been set free already, but poor and black? No justice... No knew court date has been set yet.

June 2016

Just another day in hell. Health is not good as it used to be. All these years are wearing me down. I’m 60 years old now and still fighting for my freedom. I know that I keep going over this, but Jesus said “keep on knocking on the door until they open the door,” It seems like they want to close the door back in my face every time.
Me, a poor black man, who at the time (1976) could not read or write, who walked around with names and addresses of his mother, sisters and brother in his pocket.

In 1977 you had so much going on in Columbus, GA. You had the stocking strangler, who was raping white females and killed them. You had other crimes going on also. The District Attorney Office and the Columbus Police Apartment were under so much pressure to make arrest and get a conviction. The KKK talked of marching in black neighborhoods, talked of lynching blacks. There was no way Johnny Lee Gates was going to get a fair trial. I grew up watching blacks being killed by white police officials. Watched them kneel down by the body and plant a weapon and get away with it.

I was arrested for this crime. I was not allowed to call a lawyer or to call family members. I was showed pictures of the crime and of the victim, being told what “I did” over and over while being threatened, calling me boy, nigger over and over again. Making me confess to it. But the confession didn’t match the crime. The first person charged for this crime was a white male. A witness saw a white male running from the crime at the victim’s apartment. Witnesses saw him a the mortuary foundling the victim’s body. This white male was arrested and charged with the crime after he’d confessed to it. A middle class white male. He was allowed to go home and come back when he wanted. He was allowed to stop interview when he wanted. Even though the police officials strongly believed he was guilty of the crime, the District Attorney Office let him go and dropped all charges against him.

In 1976, or a year before, black Columbus police officers were marching in protesting against racism and injustice in Columbus. All of them was fired. It was taking all the way to the United State Supreme Court.

Go in any state of the US, ask any army man who has been to fort Benning. He would tell you about Columbus Georgia, the racism and the system there. The District Office pick the judge, hear the case, how to pick the jury. Controlling the public defender’s Office. Back then, a black person who was charged with a crime against a white person, he was going to get an all-white jury or so close to it, that if one black or two blacks sitting in that jury, were intimidated by the whites in that room and would be pressured to vote the way they want them to…

In 2003, in Judge John D. Allen court room, we had a hearing to try to find out what happened to all of the evidence in the crime. The Columbus Police Department, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the District Attorney Office, they all got on the witness stand and it was said that all evidence was destroyed in 1978 and that there was no evidence to be found.
In 2003 the trial started that ended in a mistrial. I ended up with life without parole. In that deal my lawyers can’t take part in my case anymore. They thought that I was going to lay down like a good dog. I didn’t. I learned what I could and kept on fighting. In 2011 Judge Allen room, the District Attorney told the court that they had determined that the semen evidence was found on the victim’s bathrobe belonged to the victim’s husband. The jury didn’t hear it and the defense didn’t know.

In 2015 two college students went to the District Attorney Office and looked into a box. They found evidence from the crime. The Georgia Innocence Project came on my case wanting to do DNA-testing on this evidence that was found. In August hearing the District Attorney asked for 60 days delay. They got it. In December the District Attorney Office told the judge that they had this evidence in 2003 and that they gave it to the court, that it was docket by the court clerk. All is violation of the law. Both state and federal. But being a poor black man… who cares, who gives a damn?
Man-made justice is hell on earth. You can’t trust no one. Life is what it is for a black man. Welcome to my hell…

If you would like to write me, you can go to www.jpay.com, sign up and get on my email list that we have now in Georgia prison system. My ID# is 385231

April 2016

As told before, I had a hearing set for Tuesday, August 25th 2015. I had filed an extraordinary motion for a new trial. Instead, on newly discovered evidence, the Georgia Innocence Project took my case, after interns, Catherine O’Neill and Bryan Reines, went to the district attorney’s office on July 30th 2015, to review the case file. They expected to find documents saying the evidence in the case had been destroyed or to find nothing at all. Either way, the case would be closed for them. While digging through a box, they found a lumpy manila envelope and peered inside at pieces of black and white fabric. Writing on the outside said the envelope contained a bathrobe belt and neckties.
G.I.P. filed an amended motion asking the judge in the case to allow testing for DNA. The assistant district attorney Brad Bickerstaff asked for a 60 day delay since the amended motion was filed a week before the August 25th hearing and the judge granted his request.

The motion for extraordinary motion for a new trial was filed by me in 2010.  In 2011 court hearing I showed the court evidence that was not known to the defense; confession of a white male, witnesses whom could place him running away from the crime, others placed him at the mortuary, foundling the victim’s body. Police officers, who mentioned they had no doubts that this person had commit the crime and that this person knew  what he was talking about, when he confessed.
In 2002 a hearing was held to try to find any evidence from the crime. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Columbus Police Department and the District Attorney all said that all evidence was destroyed. Lawyers even asked for the belt and neckties. It was told they were destroyed too. Judge Allen even stated in court any evidence shown up after this case, someone will answer for it.

Life without parole, I was on my own to fight for myself . In 2011 I brought the semen evidence. Semen that was found on the bath robe the victim was wearing. The semen was tested in 1976. The semen blood type was in the B-blood group. My blood is the O-blood group. The jury never heard this. Why not? When you have someone charged with rape? It seems to me that, you want to give the jury every piece of evidence, unless you know it doesn’t match.
You got a white woman that has been raped, killed, in the south, 1976. Charging a black man with the crime, get an all-white jury and make them believe everything. Every piece of evidence match pointed to me. They own the Public Defender office, whom gave me no defense at all.

In 2011 hearing, pointing out the semen on the bathrobe and blood type. The assistant district attorney said to the court that they were determined that the semen on the bathrobe belonged to the husband. The defense wasn’t told of this. The D.A. withhold this from the defense with doing trial in 1977. Doing this trial, everything pointed to me. That alone is a Brady violation. The police, the state acted in bad faith. Now December 2015 court hearing, while asking for DNA testing on the bathrobe-belt and neckties, assistant district attorney Brad Bickerstaff said in court that they had this evidence in 2002 and that they gave in to the clerk. So, again another violation of law Brady US Maryland 373 US 83, 835 CT 1194 (1963) a powerful case.
I’m not nervous and I have no reason to be, because I’m not guilty. Forty years ago I was sentenced to die because I was black. I’m still black and not much has changed over the years. A black man is guilty when he’s first charged with a crime and it takes too much to undo the injustice that was done to a black man…

January 2016

Judge orders DNA tests on 1976 rape, murder evidence