Saturday, 25 October 2008

Court issues stay of execution for Troy Davis


Court issues stay of execution for Troy Davis

The federal appeals court in Atlanta on Friday halted Troy Anthony Davis'
execution, the third time his life has been spared shortly before he was
to be put to death.

Davis' claims of innocence, based largely on the recantations of
prosecution witnesses, have attracted international attention and protest.
He was set to be executed by lethal injection Monday evening for the 1989
murder of an off-duty Savannah police officer.

For the 3rd time in 16 months, Troy Davis was granted a stay of
execution.Related links:

The 11th Circuit's ruling is the latest in what has been a roller-coaster
ride of last-ditch appeals in which Davis, 40, has been repeatedly denied
relief only to be spared again and again.

Martina Correia, Davis' sister, said she and her mother, Virginia Davis,
were packing for the trip to death-row when they got the news.

"I've been praying," Correia said. "He deserves to be free. He at least
doesn't deserve to die for something he didn't do."

Since Davis' 1991 trial, 7 of 9 key prosecution witnesses have backed off
their testimony. Others have come forward and implicated another man in
the killing of 27-year-old Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail.

The witnesses' recantations have prompted leaders across the globe to call
for Davis' death sentence be commuted. But Chatham County prosecutors say
they are certain Davis is a cop killer and deserves to die for it.

When the 11th Circuit issued its stay, Davis' supporters were holding a
mock funeral at the state Capitol. Demonstrators carried a coffin and a
petition with 140,000 signatures to the state Board of Pardons and
Paroles. Davis' supporters also delivered a letter signed by more than 100
members of Georgias clergy to the Governors office.

Correia talked to Davis after the court issued its stay. "To all the
people around the world working hard and fighting for him, he wants to say
thank you and this fight has to continue," she said.

The officer's 75-year-old mother, Anneliese, expressed fury and

"It's unbelievable," she said. "It's tearing us apart. I'm at the end with
my nerves. I can't sleep, I can't eat. This is ridiculous."

MacPhail's sister, Kathy McQuary, cried when she learned of the stay from
a reporter.

Davis' lawyers expressed hope the stay leads to the new evidence being
presented at a hearing.

"I am extremely relieved that the 11th Circuit, when addressed with such a
grave issue as the innocence of a man set for execution, wants to hear
argument and make a considered judgment," said Tom Dunn, a member of
Davis' legal team.

The state Attorney General's Office canceled Monday's execution, spokesman
Russ Willard said, adding that state attorneys are exploring the their

On Wednesday, Davis asked the 11th Circuit for permission to pursue a new
federal habeas corpus petition - in which an inmate claims he is
unlawfully incarcerated. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
of 1996 requires a federal appeals court to approve such a request before
such a new lawsuit can be filed.

"Upon our thorough review of the record, we conclude that Davis has met
the burden for a stay of execution," the court said in an order issued by
Judges Joel Dubina, Rosemary Barkett and Stanley Marcus.

The judges called the stay "conditional" and said they want to hear more
from Davis' lawyers and state attorneys.

Davis must clear 2 difficult legal hurdles to win a new round of appeals.

First, he must show that his lawyers could not have previously found the
new evidence supporting his innocence no matter how diligently they looked
for it. And he must show that the new testimony, viewed in light of all
the evidence, is enough to prove "by clear and convincing evidence thatno
reasonable fact finder would have found [him] guilty."

The 11th Circuit added a twist. It asked the parties to address whether
Davis can still be executed if he can establish innocence under the 2nd
standard but cannot satisfy his burden under the first, due-diligence

The court gave Davis' lawyers 15 days to file their legal brief and state
attorneys another 10 days to respond.

In July 2007, the state Board of Pardons and Paroles issued a stay less
than 24 hours before Davis was to be put to death. Last month, the Supreme
Court halted Davis' execution with less than 2 hours to spare.

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