A Georgia woman who has been imprisoned since 1990 for murdering her 11-year-old daughter could soon go free, according to local reports.
A spokesperson for the state’s parole board confirmed to WSB-TV that Martha Ann Johnson, 64, has received a tentative grant of release.
Five of Johnson’s prior parole bids had been denied, the spokesperson said.
The board has yet to make a final decision on Johnson’s release and there is no set date for her possible reentry into society, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“All board decisions are tentative and subject to change,” reads a statement from the board. “Should the board make a final release decision and set a release date, the agency will send a 72-hour notification to the presiding judge, the DA, sheriff and registered victims notifying these parties that the individual is being paroled with the effective release date.”
WXIA-TV reports that the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office has officially opposed Johnson’s release.
In 1982, Johnson’s daughter, Jenny Ann Wright, died of asphyxiation. Though she was initially identified as a possible suspect, Johnson was not formally charged until 1988, when an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation prompted authorities to re-open the investigation.
According to WXIA, three of Johnson’s other children died between 1977 and 1981. All were between the ages of three months and two years old, and their deaths were attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or a seizure disorder.
Speaking to police in 1989, Johnson admitted to killing Jenny, and also confessed to killing her young son, J.W. Taylor. She denied being responsible for the deaths of the other two children.
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At trial, she denied killing any of her kids, but jurors found her guilty of Jenny’s killing in 1990. She was subsequently sentenced to life in prison.
Johnson was never charged with the deaths of the other three children. Authorities in Fulton County, where they died, could still decide to prosecute those cases.
Shane Wright, Jenny Ann Wright’s half-brother, told WXIA he’s upset Johnson may walk free.
“I want them to carry her body in a bag out of that prison, throw her in the woods and catch her on fire — I wouldn’t even waste the dirt,” he said.