Georgia Supreme Court Denies Davis Reconsideration, US Supreme Court Allows Lethal Injections


(APN) ATLANTA — The Georgia Supreme Court on April 14, 2008, denied Troy Anthony Davis’s motion for reconsideration of its March 17, 2008, ruling. Justices ruled last month Davis should not receive a new trial based on new evidence presented in November 2007.

Attorneys for Davis argue the new evidence proves his innocence, as previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News.

Davis has been on death row since 1991 after a Savannah jury convicted him of the 1989 murder of Officer Mark Allen MacPhail. Since that ruling, seven of nine original witnesses have either changed or recanted their testimony the prosecution used to obtain a conviction.

“We are deeply disappointed by the decision to deny Troy Davis’ request for a hearing,” Jared Feuer, Southern Regional Director for Amnesty International, said in a press release obtained by APN.

“Throughout Mr. Davis’ appeal, each court has ruled on procedures and technicalities, failing to recognize that a man’s life is at stake,” he continued.

“Mr. Davis could be put to death despite witness testimony that has unraveled since the initial trial and the failure to produce any murder weapon or physical evidence that links him to the crime,” Feuer said.

Three new witnesses have testified in affidavits that another man, Sylvester Coles, confessed to killing MacPhail after Davis’s conviction.

Davis was one day away from execution in July 2007, when the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles issued a stay of execution.

In August, attorneys for Davis filed an extraordinary motion for a new trial in Chatham County. While Chatham County denied that motion, the Georgia Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in November.

But the justices ruled 4-3 against Davis on March 17, 2008.

Laura Moye of Georgians For Alternatives to the Death Penalty told APN April 17, 2008, that Davis’ attorneys are going to appeal the March 17 ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On another front, the United States has been under a de facto moratorium on executions for eight months while the Supreme Court of the US heard arguments in a Kentucky case that sought to determine if the method used for lethal injections in that state were constitutional.

The Court ruled April 16, 2008, by a vote of 7-2 that the method Kentucky uses in its lethal injection procedure does not violate the Constitution.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the opinion for the Court, said if the lethal injection procedure in Kentucky is carried out properly, it will result in a humane death and does not violate the Eighth Amendment’s guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment.

The two Kentucky inmates who brought the challenge argued the three-drug mix could cause excruciating pain if not administered properly.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and David Souter dissented.

This decision could clear the way for executions to resume nationwide.

Just hours after the ruling, Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker asked stays of execution be lifted for inmates Jack Alderman and Curtis Osborne, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper reported April 16, 2008.

Baker could have included Davis in his April 16 decision to lift stays of execution but did not most likely because Davis is in the midst of an appeals process, Moye said.

It is unlikely Georgia will set an execution date while Davis pursues his appeal, Moye said. But an execution date could be handed down in June or July or as late as October, Moye said.

“It’s hard to predict these execution date timelines and it further demonstrates the mental torture of the death penalty process to those on death row,” she said. “But we’ll do our best to keep folks informed as we get information.”

About the author:

Jonathan Springston is a Senior Staff Writer for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at

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