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