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James E. Donald
Albert R. Murray
Vice Chair
L. Gale Buckner
Robert E. Keller
Terry E. Barnard
News Release
For Immediate Release   Contact: Steve Hayes, Director
Public Affairs Office
Phone: (404) 657-9450
FAX: (404) 651-8502

Parole Board Schedules Clemency Appointment for Roy Willard Blankenship

January 31, 2011;

Atlanta, GA - The State Board of Pardons and Paroles has invited representatives for condemned inmate Roy Willard Blankenship to meet with the Board on Thursday, February 3, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. to advocate for clemency for him. Blankenship is scheduled to die by lethal injection February 9, 2011, at 7:00 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia.

Roy W. Blankenship was found guilty in April of 1980 of burglary, murder and rape in the death of 78 year old Sarah Mims Bowen of Savannah. The court sentenced Blankenship to death and also sentenced him to two 20-year sentences for the burglary and rape, to run consecutive to the death sentence, but concurrent to each other. Blankenship confessed upon his arrest. The facts in the case detail the events the night of the murder. Blankenship left a bar in the early morning hours of March 2, 1978. Having worked for the victim previously, he decided to break into her Savannah home. Once inside, he found the victim sitting in a chair and he grabbed her from behind and as they struggled, she fell to the floor becoming unconscious. Blankenship carried her to a bed and raped her. Neighbors found the victim severely beaten and deceased. Footprints left at the scene led police toward Blankenship’s house, where they recovered shoes matching the footprints outside the victim’s apartment. Blankenship’s fingerprints were also found at the crime scene. Forensic evidence established Bowen died from heart failure brought on by the trauma. 

Blankenship’s death penalty was subsequently overturned by the Georgia Supreme Court. A second sentencing trial took place in 1982 and again Blankenship testified and was again sentenced to death. The Georgia Supreme Court upon direct appeal again considered the case and vacated the death sentence. A third sentencing trial took place in June 1986. Blankenship again testified and the jury recommended the death sentence be imposed and the court agreed. Upon direct appeal, the Georgia Supreme Court found no error in the latest proceedings and affirmed the death sentence.   

The Board appointment will not be open to the media, but a photo opportunity will be afforded prior to the start of the appointment. Media should check in with credentials by 8:45 a.m. in the Board’s public reception office at 2 Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive, East Tower, 4 th Floor, room 458. Members of the media will be given an opportunity to wait until the conclusion of the appointment to interview those seeking executive clemency for Blankenship, if they choose to grant interviews.

To view a photo of Roy Willard Blankenship, go to www.dcor.state.ga.us
Click on GDC Inmate Query, agree to the terms on the disclaimer page, and enter the offender’s
EF number, 130375
For more information on the Parole Board, please visit our web site at www.pap.state.ga.us