Will the nation’s highest court ponder the case of Georgia death-row inmate Troy Anthony Davis before they take their annual summer recess? If not, Davis, who was convicted in the 1991 murder of an off-duty Savannah Police officer, must wait until the fall to hear his fate in the last-ditch appeal for his life.
In the years since his conviction and subsequent death sentence, seven of the nine people who testified against him have recanted their testimonies. In fact, Sylvester “Red” Coles, the first person to finger Davis, now 40, in the murder, has himself been implicated. Moreover, there has never been any physical evidence linking Davis to the shooting death of the 27-year-old officer, Mark Allen MacPHail in the Burger King parking lot two decades ago.
Laura Moye of Amnesty International USA’s Death Penalty Abolition Campaign says that even if the high court doesn’t hear Davis’ case before their break it is not necessarily a bad thing. That’s because it “buys more time for all of the advocates to get more publicity on the case,” she said.
Davis’ fate essentially would be left in the hands of Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm to pursue Davis’ fourth execution warrant if the courts decide not to hear Davis’ petition. So far, Davis’ execution has been put on hold three times. Support from Davis has come from across the spectrum. Judges, politicians and international leaders have pushed for a new trial.
Last month, more than two dozen jurists and federal prosecutors filed a petition saying that Davis can show “new, never reviewed evidence that strongly points to his innocence.” U.S. Rep. John Lewis wants a new trial, and former President Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict XVI have asked that Davis be spared death by lethal injection.