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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.

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The contradictions began to attract the attention and comment of capital-punishment opponents and human-rights activists including former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and officials at Amnesty International.

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Judge Moore examined each of the seven recantations and decided that only one was fully credible. But he concluded that the recantation came from a witness whose testimony at the trial had been “patently false,” and ultimately not important to the conviction.

The judge said two other recantations were partly credible, but they only minimally diminished the state’s case against Davis. The remaining four recantations did not diminish the state’s case at all, the judge concluded.

It wasn’t the first time Davis and his lawyers had failed to convince the authorities of his innocence.

In 2007, amid growing publicity surrounding the Davis case, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles halted Davis’s scheduled execution. The Pardons Board then spent a year studying his claims.

The board released a statement in September 2008: “As part of its proceedings, the Board gave Davis’ attorneys an opportunity to present every witness they desired to support their allegation that there is doubt to Davis’ guilt.”

It added: “In addition, the Board has studied the voluminous trial transcript, the police investigation report and the initial statements of the witnesses. The Board has had certain physical evidence retested and Davis interviewed.”

The statement concludes: “After an exhaustive review of all available information regarding the Troy Davis case and after considering all possible reasons for granting clemency, the Board has determined that clemency is not warranted.”

MacPhail’s mother, Anneliese MacPhail, told the Associated Press she was hopeful Davis’s legal appeals were over.

“I’m relieved that it’s over now,” she said. “Well, maybe. I’m not believing it until it’s over. It’s been going on for so many years now that every time we think we’re near an end, something else comes up. I just want this to end so badly, you won’t believe it. This has been a nightmare.”


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