ATLANTA—The clock is ticking for Marcus Ray Johnson, a Georgia man on death row who is scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m. Eastern time tonight. As his lawyers are racing for a last ditch effort to have the execution delayed or commuted, Johnson saw his own personal request denied: beer for his last meal.
Johnson, 50, asked for a last meal that consisted of a six-pack of beer, the State Department of Corrections said in a statement. That request was denied because alcohol is not allowed in the prison, and he'll instead get the same meal as everyone else on death row: baked fish, cheese grits, dry mixed beans, cole slaw, cornbread, crisp drop cookies, and fruit punch.
Johnson was convicted in 1998 of the March 1994 killing of Angela Sizemore. Prosecutors say he picked up an inebriated Sizemore at a bar in Albany, Ga., had sex with her in a nearby field, stabbed her 41 times and mutilated her body with a stick. Johnson, who says he left her alive after having consensual sex and punching her in the face, has insisted he's innocent for years.
The State Board of Pardons and Paroles, which heard Johnson's case yesterday in Atlanta, denied his application to commute or delay the sentence in an order released late last night. (Under Georgia law, the board has that power, not the governor.) Johnson's lawyer is now appealing to the state's supreme court.
Johnson has had a tumultuous appeals process: One day before he was scheduled to die in 2011, a court delayed the execution after new evidence was found. But DNA testing of the new evidence did not exonerate him.
His lawyers argue that the case against Johnson included no conclusive physical or DNA evidence, and that the eyewitnesses who identified him were coached by police. So far, the courts haven't bought it.
Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1973, a total of 57 men and one woman have been executed in Georgia, according to the Department of Corrections.
Casey Tolan is a National News Reporter for Fusion based in New York City.