of Troy Davis upheld
Judge ignores cops coercion of witnesses
AP Photo/Stephen Morton
Virginia Davis (left foreground), mother of Troy Davis, attending his court hearing June 24 in Savannah, Georgia, where his defense presented witnesses who described how police pressured them to falsely accused him of murder. At right is Martina Correia, Troys sister.
BY BRIAN WILLIAMS
A federal judge in Georgia upheld the conviction of death-row prisoner Troy Davis August 24 despite evidence clearly showing he was framed up by the police.
Davis is a 41-year-old Black man convicted in 1991 for the 1989 killing of Mark MacPhail, a white cop in Savannah, Georgia. Davis has maintained his innocence throughout his 19 years on death row and fought for a new trial. No DNA or other physical evidence linking him to the killing was presented at the trial.
The state has tried to execute Davis three times. Due to an international campaign to defend him stays were won each time. Since the 1991 trial seven of nine witnesses recanted or changed their testimony.
Under the pressure of a worldwide outcry against the frame-up, the U.S. Supreme Court in August 2009 ordered a federal judge to hear new evidence in the case. This was first time in 50 years that the high court had issued such a directive.
In response, a June 23-24 special hearing was held before U.S. District Judge William Moore. In testimony, four witnesses admitted they lied at the trial when they implicated Troy Davis and they did not know who shot MacPhail. Four witnesses implicated another man as the one who killed the cop, and three original state witnesses described police coercion during questioning, reported WSAV-TV in Savannah.
Two months later the judge issued his decision. Executing an innocent person would violate the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Moore stated. However, Mr. Davis is not innocent. The judge asserted that while the new evidence casts some additional, minimal doubt on his conviction, it is largely smoke and mirrors.
The courts ruling sets the stage for the state of Georgia to schedule Daviss execution. However, his lawyers have said they plan to appeal the district courts decision either to the 11th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals or directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
We will continue to fight, Daviss sister, Martina Correia, told the media.