US Supreme Court Denies Davis Appeal, Clearing Way for Execution
(APN) ATLANTA — The Supreme Court of the US announced Tuesday, October 14, 2008, that it will not take up an appeal for Georgia death row inmate Troy Anthony Davis.
The Court issued a temporary stay of execution for Davis on September 23, 2008, just two hours before his last scheduled execution. Tuesday’s decision automatically terminates that stay and paves the way for a new execution date, possibly as early as the end of the month.
Since Davis’s 1991 conviction for the murder of Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail, seven of nine witnesses used by the prosecution have either changed or recanted their original testimony in sworn affidavits.
Attorneys for Davis argued the recantations create too much doubt for an execution to take place and asked the Court for a new trial or hearing to consider the new evidence. It appears now that Davis may have exhausted all avenues of appeal.
“It’s pretty devastating to everyone,” Jason Ewart, an attorney on the case, told Atlanta Progressive News. “It’s still not a decision on the merits of the case, on the facts of the case.”
Ewart said attorneys would consider all possible avenues, including going back before the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, which denied Davis clemency on September 12, 2008.
“We’re going to consider all our options,” Ewart added. “We’re not giving up.”
Davis’s sister Martina Correia expressed outrage over Tuesday’s decision.
“I’m trying to figure out why I live in this country,” she said. “I don’t know what it takes for us to protect the innocent in this country.”
Correia said her brother is “very, very disappointed” by the news but is trying to remain hopeful.
“He’s trying to remain strong for us and what we have to do,” she said.
Other supporters like Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) issued denunciations of Tuesday’s decision as well.
“The Supreme Court’s decision is truly shocking, given that significant evidence of Davis’ innocence will never have a chance to be examined,” Larry Cox, Executive Director for AIUSA, said in a press release.
“Faulty eyewitness identification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions, and the hallmark of Davis’s case. This was an opportunity for the Court to clarify the constitutionality of putting the innocent to death — and in Davis’s case, his innocence could only be determined with a new hearing or trial,” Cox said.
State Rep. Stephanie Benfield (D-Decatur) told Atlanta Progressive News she is disappointed by Tuesday’s decision but “not surprised given the makeup of the Court.”
In addition to working on eyewitness identification reform, which stalled in the previous legislative session, Benfield said she is interested in working on standards for bringing new evidence to court.
“We need to ensure critical evidence that comes up after the trial is considered,” Benfield said. “This is a miscarriage of justice when all evidence is not fully vetted.”
Groups like AIUSA and Georgians For Alternatives to the Death Penalty (GFADP) have worked to bring international attention to the Davis case. Since February 2007, AIUSA has collected over 200,000 petitions from around the world asking for clemency for Davis.
Noted figures such as Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and former President Jimmy Carter have asked for mercy for Davis.
GFADP officials said they will plan a series of actions in light of Tuesday’s decision. Details have yet to be released.
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