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Georgia man jailed for 43 years freed after plea deal

Johnny Lee Gates was freed Friday from jail after 43 years.
Credit: WXIA

COLUMBUS, Ga. — A Georgia man convicted of murdering a woman in 1976 has reached a plea deal and been released from jail after DNA testing cast doubt on his guilt.

Sixty-three-year-old Johnny Lee Gates was convicted in 1977 of murder, rape and robbery in the slaying of 19-year-old Katharina Wright.

The state Supreme Court had said Gates deserved a new trial after testing showed Gates DNA wasn’t found on fabric at the scene. 

Gates entered an Alford plea to charges of voluntary manslaughter and armed robbery. He was then freed Friday from jail after 43 years. 

Through the years, Gates has maintained his innocence. 


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