Troy Davis execution nears: What options remain for a reprieve?
Troy Davis is facing his fourth execution date Wednesday at 7 p.m. Attempts to delay the execution continue, with critics saying Georgia has not listened to doubts about Davis's guilt.
As vigils began and last-minute legal filings were processed, Troy Davis, the Georgia death row inmate whose contention of innocence has drawn global attention, prepared for his fourth, and likely final, execution date at 7 p.m. Wednesday.Skip to next paragraph
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Convicted in 1991 of killing off-duty Savannah, Ga., police officer Mark MacPhail, Mr. Davis failed Tuesday in his last clemency bid in front of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles. On Wednesday, the board denied an offer by Davis to take a polygraph test, leaving Davis with dwindling options for a reprieve.
The state's decision to go through with the execution, despite seven of nine witnesses recanting or changing their testimony, has put the credibility of US courts in question, Davis's supporters say. They fear that a US state is about to give a lethal injection to a man who may well be innocent.
"The government is playing a dangerous game here," says Bruce Barket, a Long Island criminal defense attorney who has followed the Davis case closely. "When there's this kind of widespread doubt about an individual's guilt, it's remarkably unwise for the government to pursue an execution."
Mr. Barket contrasts the global outpouring of support for Davis versus the lack of public outrage over the scheduled execution in Texas Wednesday of Lawrence Brewer, who was sent to death row after being convicted of chaining a black man, James Byrd, to the back of a pickup and dragging him to death near Jasper, Texas. Barket says the Texas case was an example of how the justice system should work.
On the other side of the debate, the original prosecutor in the Davis case, Spencer Lawton, says Davis's claims of innocence have been "manufactured" to raise sympathy and put public pressure on the courts. "A police officer was murdered," he told a Georgia TV station. "The consequences that derive from that fact can't be happy."
Indeed, doubts about Davis's guilt have been heard by myriad appeals courts and an unusual Supreme Court-ordered hearing in Georgia last year, all of which have come to the same conclusion: New developments notwithstanding, the verdict stands.