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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 Grants Stay for Roy Willard Blankenship

February 4, 2011;

Atlanta, GA - Today, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles granted a stay of execution of the sentence of death for Roy Willard Blankenship. The stay is in place until midnight on February 17, 2011 or until the Board issues an order lifting the stay, whichever first occurs. The purpose for the stay, as stated in the order, is to allow for additional time to examine the substance of claims offered by Blankenship’s representatives at the February 3, 2011, clemency appointment and any additional evidence that becomes available.

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.   

Blankenship was scheduled to die by lethal injection February 9, 2011, at 7:00 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia.
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