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Georgia Supreme Court upholds inmate's stay of execution

ATLANTA (Reuters) - The Georgia Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to lift a stay of execution ordered for a death row inmate seeking more DNA testing and time to review new evidence in his case.

Marcus Ray Johnson, 46, had been scheduled to die by lethal injection on Wednesday for the 1994 rape and murder of Angela Sizemore in Albany, Georgia.

But Dougherty County Superior Court Chief Judge W.E. Lockette had on Tuesday delayed the execution and set a hearing for February to determine the merits of Johnson's request for additional DNA testing and a new trial.

Defense attorneys also said they needed time for their experts to examine what they said was a new box of physical evidence that had only recently been supplied by the Albany Police Department.

Dougherty County District Attorney Gregory Edwards filed an emergency motion asking the state Supreme Court to vacate the judge's order granting the stay.

The court, in a unanimous vote, dismissed the state's appeal on procedural grounds, meaning Johnson's execution won't be carried out until at least early next year.

(Reporting by David Beasley; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

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