Supreme Court declines case of death-row inmate who became cause célèbre
Georgia death-row inmate Troy Davis had attracted the attention of anti-death penalty advocates worldwide, but the Supreme Court refused to take his case Monday.
The US Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the appeal of Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis, whose loud and persistent claims of innocence attracted the support of death penalty opponents around the world and forced a series of extra hearings to investigate his case.Skip to next paragraph
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In the end, court after court rejected his pleas.
On Monday the high court, without comment, dismissed three appeals filed on Mr. Davis’s behalf.
The action opens the way for Georgia authorities to set an execution date.
Davis was convicted and sentenced to die for the 1989 shooting death of off-duty Savannah Police Officer Mark MacPhail. He’s been on death row since 1991.
He has avoided execution dates three times by persuading a new court to examine his case. But the high court’s action on Monday may have brought his appeals to an end.
In 2009, Davis’s lawyers persuading the US Supreme Court to take the highly unusual step of ordering a federal judge to reexamine Davis’s case from top to bottom.
The court took the action after lawyers presented affidavits claiming that seven of nine witnesses at Davis’s trial had recanted their testimony.
After conducting a hearing last summer, the federal judge upheld Davis’ murder conviction. “While Mr. Davis’s new evidence casts some additional, minimal doubt on his conviction, it is largely smoke and mirrors,” US District Judge William Moore wrote in a 174-page order.
The central issue in that evidentiary hearing was whether Davis was the person who attacked a homeless man outside a Burger King restaurant in August 1989 and then shot and killed MacPhail when he came to the aid of the homeless man.
The off-duty officer was working as a security guard at the time of the shooting.
With no murder weapon or other physical evidence, state prosecutors relied on eyewitness testimony to build their case. The shooting took place in a darkened parking lot at 1 a.m.
Some witnesses weren’t sure what they saw. Defense lawyers later obtained statements from witnesses contradicting their earlier statements to police.