Carlton Gary: The Columbus, Georgia Stocking Strangler
Carlton Gary on Trial
Carlton Gary came to trial in August 1986 for the notorious Stocking Stranglings — a full nine years after the last killing had been committed.
Early in the trial, a peevish Gary told the judge he was sick and asked to be excused from "this circus or whatever you call it."
The judge denied the request. He was Muscogee County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Followill, a man with straight thin hair who wore large glasses. He was a respected jurist.
Muscogee County District Attorney William J. Smith headed the state's team. In his opening statement, Smith told the jury that while Gary was charged in three murders, the government would show evidence connecting him to seven. He went on to say that they would hear of how, when Gary was suspected of killing Nellie Farmer, he had successfully deflected suspicion from himself by implicating another man and how Gary repeated this subterfuge.
Siemon's opening tried to downplay the significance of the fingerprint evidence. "Fingerprints prove nothing except that a person was at a location," Siemon told the jury. "They don't prove that he was the murderer." He also suggested that the police were desperate to pin the stranglings on someone because they had been so helpless to stop them. "They had officers in trees," he recounted, "they had officers hiding in the bushes with night-vision devices; they had stake-out houses with police inside. All this and they didn't catch the killer when he was committing all these crimes."
The state put on witnesses who saw Gary in the vicinity of the crime scenes, fingerprint experts, and medical personnel who testified to the condition of the victims' bodies. Much of the testimony was quite gruesome and some jurors had difficulty both listening to it and viewing pictures of what had been done to the elderly women.