Seven of nine witnesses have recanted testimony
By AFRO Staff
(June 28, 2009) - The fate of Troy Davis now rests in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The nation’s highest court is expected this week to consider hearing the case of Davis, a Georgia man convicted 20 years ago of killing a Savannah police officer. Davis’ execution has been stayed three times as lawyers ran through options to keep him alive, but his final appeal now rests with the Supreme Court.
Davis, 40, was convicted in 1991 of killing off-duty police officer Mark Allen MacPhail, though no physical evidence at the time linked him to the murder. Since the trial, seven of the nine witnesses against Davis have recanted their testimony.
The Supreme Court will retire for its summer recess Tuesday until September. If it does not make a decision whether to take up Davis’s case, prosecutors could attempt to get a fourth execution warrant for Davis before the court re-convenes.
However, that delay may also work in the favor of Davis’ defense team, Laura Moye of Amnesty International USA’s Death Penalty Abolition Campaign told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“It buys more time for all of the advocates to get more publicity on the case,” Moye said.
Davis’ case has drawn international support, including from former President Jimmy Carter and the Vatican. The NAACP has launched an “I Am Troy” campaign.
In 1991, Chatham County, Georgia jurors took just two hours to decide Davis was guilty, and seven more to sentence him to death, both unanimous decisions. But an Associated Press investigation this week found that at least four have had second thoughts about their choice.
“Maybe I might have voted him guilty, but never, ever the death penalty,” Brenda Forrest, a 53-year-old research and development manager who served on the jury, told the AP. “That part is clear to me. If need be, take this thing back to trial.”
Georgia congressmen John Lewis and Hank Johnson along with NAACP President Ben Jealous met with Davis last month, and all three left the two-hour-long meeting convinced of Davis’ innocence.
Lewis said he planned to talk to leaders of both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees about the case, and said he has considered seeking a presidential pardon but has not spoken to President Obama about intervening in the case.
Jealous said the case is now a national priority for the organization.
“This case stands out,” Mr. Jealous said during a May 29 news conference after he met with Mr. Davis. “Something’s wrong in Chatham County.”