Troy Davis, 42, was put on death row 20 years ago for the 1989 murder of a police officer, Mark MacPhail, in Savannah following a fight with a homeless man over a bottle of beer. Since then seven out of the nine key witnesses who implicated him have recanted their evidence, several saying they were cajoled by police into giving false eye-witness statements.
Another 10 have come forward to point the finger at a separate man present at the scene of the murder, Sylvester Coles. BTW, Coles was one of the 2 of 9 witnesses mentioned above who did not recant – go figure.
Meanwhile, no forensic or DNA evidence linking Davis to the shooting has ever been found, and nor has the murder weapon.
Amnesty International’s US branch, that has championed the case, said: “Allowing a man to be sent to death under an enormous cloud of doubt about his guilt is an outrageous affront to justice. The case against Davis unraveled long ago.”
The public figures who have leant their names to the “Too much doubt” campaign to have Davis’s execution commuted include Pope Benedict, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former president Jimmy Carter, the former director of the FBI William Sessions, 51 members of the US Congress and many others. Bianca Jagger, who acts as the Council of Europe’s ambassador on the death penalty, said: “to execute Troy Davis in these circumstances would be a travesty. Executing an innocent man is a state-sanctioned murder.”
The parole board heard from one of the jurors who originally recommended the death penalty for Davis. Brenda Forrest told the panel she no longer trusted the verdict or sentence: “I feel, emphatically, that Mr Davis cannot be executed under these circumstances,” she said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But the Georgia Parole Board denied clemency yesterday and Troy Davis is scheduled to be put to death today.
– From the Guardian (UK)
[UPDATE] A last minute appeal to the US Supreme Court delayed the execution about 4 hours. But they denied it, and so the State of Georgia killed Mr. Davis a little after 11:00 p.m. Davis maintained his innocence to the end. Strapped to his gurney he lifted his head and according to execution witnesses, told the family of Mark MacPhail that he was not responsible for the officer’s death and did not have a gun at the time.