Serial killer Carlton Gary on trial for the Stocking Strangler cases in Columbus, 1986. (AJC file / AJC Photographic Archive at the GSU Library, AJCP406-038a)
Photo: AJC file
Photo: AJC file

Parole Board to hear serial killer’s clemency plea

One day before Georgia is scheduled to carry out its first execution of 2018, supporters of convicted serial killer Carlton Gary will ask the state Board of Pardons and Parole to spare his life.

Gary is scheduled to be put to death at 7 p.m. March 15. He was convicted in 1986 for raping and strangling three elderly women with their pantyhose.

Known as the “Stocking Strangler,” Gary has long maintained that someone else killed the women.

RELATED: Georgia’s serial killers

RELATED: The faces of Georgia’s death row

The five-member board will hold two separate hearings on March 14, one will include backers of Gary and the other those who want the state to carry out the execution. Both meetings are closed to the public.

Carlton Gary, now 67, was sentenced in the brutal slayings of three Columbus, Ga. women in the 1970s —Florence Scheible, 89; Martha Thurmond, 70; and Kathleen Woodruff, 74. He also was linked to the deaths of four other older women, who were also strangled with their stockings in their homes in the same neighborhood over a seven-month period that began in September 1977.

A mugshot of Carlton Gary, known as the "Stocking Strangler," taken in 2008. (Georgia Department of Corrections)
Photo: Georgia Department of Correction

Local prosecutors did not charge him with those other four homicides. Gary also was linked to the strangulations of two women in New York earlier in the 1970s but not tried for those murders either.

Gary has remained on Georgia’s Death Row for decades primarily because of the extraordinary path his appeals took after newly-discovered physical evidence raised questions about his 1986 conviction. 

It was the questions about that DNA evidence that saved him from execution in December 2009. The Georgia Supreme Court stopped his execution with four hours to spare and ordered the court in Muscogee County to consider DNA testing.

MORE: ‘Stocking Strangler’ pursuing final death row appeals

ALSO: Georgia execution set for March

AND: The men who have been on Georgia’s Death Row the longest

Superior Court Judge Frank Jordan Jr. subsequently allowed the DNA testing and held evidentiary hearings. Last September, Jordan denied Gary’s motion for new trial.

Gary’s lawyers filed an appeal, but the state Supreme Court decided not to hear it.

If his execution is carried out as scheduled, Gary will be the first person Georgia has put to death this year.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.