On One Hand

July 16, 2007

Another Sad Death Penalty Case

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 2:20 pm
Tags: ,

A Georgia man will be executed at at 7 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow if a final review board does not grant him a repreive. Troy Anthony Davis, convicted of killing an off-duty police officer in 1989, insists that he is innocent.

Among the board’s concerns is is that Davis’ trial offered no hard evidence, only witness testemony against him – and 7 of those 9 witnesses have since either recanted or changed their stories. Other witnesses have come forward to say they know that someone else committed the murder.

An Associated Press Story posted on MSNBC.com reports that the board could commute Davis’ sentence to life in prison, delay the execution to make time for more reviews, or allow the execution to proceed.

The defense team says a law passed in 1996 to limit the lengthy appeals processes that go on before executions has inhibited them from bringing all the evidence to courts. The law states that new evidence cannot be brought to the final review board; only evidence from the trial and subsequent appeals can be used to see if the conviction was wrongful based on the information available then. But many of the witnesses came forward to recant their testemony only recently. It is also the responsibility of the defendant to prove that “no reasonable juror” would convict him based on new evidence, which the defense team says is an impossibly high standard.

But last week a judge refused to grant a new trial, and so Davis has failed all appeals except for this one final review board.

Meanwhile, U.S. Representitive John Lewis, a Democrat from Atlanta, said “nobody should be put to death based on the evidence we now have on this case,” and said the execution would stain the country’s reputation at a time when “we are trying to convince the whole world that our way is best.”

Troy Davis is African-American, and has won the attention of some civil rights groups. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is among those who are speaking out on his behalf. Anti-death penatly groups have also rallied to Davis’ cause, along with some advocates of the death penatly who say that this case isn’t the right application of it.

***Update from July 18: The Georgia Paroles and Pardons Board has granted Davis a 90-day stay of execution so they can decide whether or not to commute Davis’ sentence to life in prison. But they cannot relase Davis or exhonorate him, only commute his sentence on the grounds that the sentence is too severe.

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