Troy Anthony Davis, the convicted cop killer from Georgia whose life was spared three times so far, was denied a fourth bid to stay alive when a federal court rejected his latest appeal.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, ruled that Davis had not established by clear and convincing evidence that a jury would not have found him guilty of gunning down a Savannah, Ga., police officer 20 years ago.
The 40-year-old Davis, whose case has drawn international attention from those calling for his execution to be overturned, was convicted of shooting off-duty Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail, a 27-year-old former Army Ranger.
Davis is accused of shooting MacPhail three times before the officer could draw his revolver. In recent years, several key prosecution witnesses, who testified at trial, have recanted their statements.
Other witnesses have said that another man told them he was actually the one who executed the officer.
Late last year, the 11th Circuit granted Davis a stay three days before he was to be put to death by lethal injection. It was the third time Davis’ life was spared from the executioner.
On Thursday, the two-judge majority found that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles had reviewed Davis’ claims extensively before shooting them down.
“Davis has not presented us with a showing of innocence so compelling that we would be obligated to act today,” Judges Joel Dubina and Stanley Marcus wrote in their conclusion.
They said they “remain unpersuaded” by the recantations after reviewing Davis’ claims.
But Judge Rosemary Barkett was not so sure. “To execute Davis, in the face of a significant amount of proffered evidence that may establish his actual innocence, is unconscionable and unconstitutional,” she wrote.
Said Tom Dunn, one of Davis’ attorneys: “Troy is innocent and this struggle is far from over.”