Is death row inmate Troy Davis guilty? (Aug. 17 article, “Supreme Court says Georgia man should get hearing.”) There is considerable doubt, yet he may be executed anyway. Nineteen years ago Davis was convicted and sentenced to die for shooting to death off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail in Savannah, Ga.
No murder weapon was ever found, and there was no physical evidence linking Davis to the murder. Instead, nine witnesses testified that he committed the crime. Seven of those witnesses have long since recanted their testimony, which they say was coerced by police and prosecutors.
Davis has always maintained he is innocent, and has repeatedly petitioned the court to grant him a new trial. After years of denials from authorities in Georgia, the Supreme Court finally insisted that the court at least grant Davis a hearing. On June 23-24, four witnesses who had previously testified against Davis told District Court Judge William T. Moore in Savannah that they believed another man shot Officer MacPhail. Despite their testimony, Judge Moore ruled on Oct. 24 that Davis had not “clearly established” his innocence and was again eligible for execution.
In Georgia the standard for allowing the death penalty to proceed is “guilt beyond doubt.” This case reeks with doubt.