Georgia Innocence Project Requests DNA Testing of Evidence in 38-Year-Old Case




Georgia Innocence Project

will ask a judge today for DNA testing in the case of their client Johnny Lee Gates, who was convicted of armed robbery, rape and murder in 1977.

Gates became a suspect in the 1976 rape and murder of Katharina Wright when he was picked up on an attempted robbery charge the following year.  A police informant claimed he loaned Gates the same make and model gun used in the crime.  The informant told police that, upon returning the firearm, Gates said he had killed Wright. When police recovered the gun, however, ballistics showed it was not the one used in the crime. According to a motion filed by Gates’ attorneys, the informant later denied owning a gun or lending one to Gates.

Lawyers from the Georgia Innocence Project claim investigators took Gates to the crime scene to explain how they believe Wright was killed, then took him back to the scene the next day to videotape him supposedly retelling how he committed the crime. Gates’ attorneys say his confession contradicted many details from the crime scene, including where in her home Wright was shot. DNA testing technology was not available at the time of the trial but semen from the victim’s robe was determined to have come from someone with type-B blood—Gates is type-O. Georgia Innocence Project attorneys will ask Senior Judge John Allen to order DNA testing of several items used to bind Wright during the assault.

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