Marc Pickard speaks to convicted murderer Carl Isaacs about the death penalty in Georgia.
The clips open with a shot of Marc Picard standing at the gate to the Georgia State Prison. A gate house and the prison are visible behind him as he says, “Fourth floor of that building behind me is the last stop for convicted murderers in the state of Georgia, and that’s death row at the Reidsville state prison. There are 29 men on that death row, and, for some of them, the Supreme Court’s favorable decision on the death penalty last Friday comes as a relief.”
The clips then cut to Carl Isaacs, an inmate on death row. Isaacs was convicted in the slayings of the Alday family in Seminole County, Georgia.
Next, the clips return to a close up shot of Carl Isaacs, who says, “I know that I don’t have a future. I mean, I might stay upstairs a couple years waiting on appeal, but I’m ready to go if there, uh, if there’s no other way out, which I doubt, I’d rather for them to go ahead and get it over with. It’s uh, that’s better than making me sit upstairs and suffer and wait some more.”
From off camera, Marc Pickard asks, “If you had it to do all over again, do you really, honestly think that it would have turned out differently, if you had anything to do about it?”
Isaacs responds, “Well, it’d turn out different in some ways. As, you know, as far as pulling that trigger, and killing them people, I believe it would happen again.”
The Alday Murders
Donalsonville was the site of the second largest mass murder in Georgia history (the largest being the Woolfolk murders in 1887). On May 14, 1973, Carl Isaacs, his half brother Wayne Coleman, and fellow prisoner George Dungee escaped from the Maryland State Prison. They were later joined by Carl’s younger brother, 15-year-old Billy Isaacs. While en route to Florida the men came upon the Alday farm in Donalsonville. They stopped at a mobile home owned by Jerry Alday and his wife Mary, to look for gas as there was a gas pump on the property.
Alday and his father Ned Alday arrived as the trailer was being ransacked and were ordered inside, then shot to death in separate bedrooms. Jerry’s brother Jimmy arrived at the trailer on a tractor and he too was led inside and forced to lay on a couch, then shot. Later, Jerry’s 25-year-old wife Mary arrived at the trailer as the men attempted to hide the tractor. She was restrained, while Jerry’s brother Chester and uncle Aubrey arrived in a pickup truck. The criminals accosted the pair still in their truck and forced them inside the trailer where they were also shot to death. Mary Alday was raped on her kitchen table before being taken out to a wooded area miles away where she was raped again and then finally murdered.
Billy Isaacs cooperated with prosecutors and received a twenty-year sentence for armed robbery. Carl Isaacs, Coleman, and Dungee were tried by jury in Seminole County in 1973, convicted, and sentenced to death. All three convictions and sentences were overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in 1985, on the grounds that the pool of local jurors had been tainted by excess pretrial publicity. All three defendants were re-tried in 1988 and were again convicted; however, only Carl Isaacs was sentenced to death, Coleman and Dungee receiving life sentences.
Carl Isaacs was executed on May 6, 2003, at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison in Jackson, by lethal injection. At the time of his execution, aged 49, he was the longest-serving death row inmate anywhere in the US, having spent 30 years on death row prior to execution.
Billy Isaacs was released from prison in 1993, and died in Florida on May 4, 2009. George Dungee died in prison on April 4, 2006. Only Wayne Coleman remains incarcerated (as of 2022).
The murders were the subject on an award-winning 1977 documentary called Murder One directed by Fleming ‘Tex’ Fuller. Fuller then wrote a screenplay, which was filmed as the 1988 film, Murder One, starring Henry Thomas. The 1988 film was widely released in North America, but it wasn’t released in southwest Georgia near where the killings took place, so as not to offend people.
Janice Daugharty published a fictionalized account of the murders, Going to Jackson.