Texas shouldn't be the only U.S. state that gets to execute innocent people, right? That's what the jealous state of Georgia seems to be saying in planning to execute Troy Davis, convicted of murdering a police officer in 1991 and possibly innocent of the crime.
Some of the issues with Davis's case, as reported by AFP and ranked in importance (according to us):
- Almost all of the nine witnesses who gave evidence at his trial have recanted or changed their testimony
- A state's witness now says another guy murdered the officer, Mark Allen MacPhail
- No DNA evidence link him to the crime
- No fingerprints, either
- Nobody ever found the murder weapon
- Davis has maintained his innocence since his arrest
Doesn't seem to be guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." Nevertheless, upon reviewing his case a federal court held in 2010 that he hadn't proven his "actual innocence" because his post-conviction body of evidence was either "not credible and would be disregarded by a reasonable juror," too general, or both. The presiding judge didn't allow Davis's lawyers to call any of the recanting witnesses—who pinned the murder on a different man at the scene named Sylvester "Redd" Coles— because they hadn't subpoenaed Coles to testify. However, the judge asserted that, even if the lawyers had called Coles to the stand, he might have confessed to the crime just to enhance "his reputation as a dangerous individual." Based on this logic, we should now assume that everyone who's ever confessed to murder probably did so only to enhance their badass reputations and therefore should be released from prison, because they're innocent.
In March the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to give Davis more time to prove his innocence. Despite all the evidentiary issues, Georgia's superior court has scheduled his execution for September 21. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has scheduled a hearing two days before Davis's government-issued death; Davis' lawyers will call some of the recanting witnesses, and maybe the board will be influenced by what they hear. If not, then Davis will be executed and Georgia governor Nathan Deal can leverage it for applause and support during some future political campaign.