Thursday, August 27, 2009


Background: (Wikipedia); The Troy Davis case concerns the case of Troy Anthony Davis, a former sports coach from the U.S. state of Georgia, who was convicted and sentenced to death in 1991 for the August 19, 1989 murder of off-duty Savannah, Georgia police officer Mark MacPhail. Throughout the trial and subsequent appeals, Davis maintained his innocence, claiming he was wrongfully convicted of the crime as a result of false identification. After the trial and first set of appeals, seven of the nine prosecution eyewitnesses who had linked Davis to the killing recanted or contradicted their original trial testimony, claiming police coercion and questionable interrogation tactics. The witness who first implicated Davis and has remained consistent, Sylvester "Redd" Coles, was initially a suspect in the crime. Coles was seen acting suspiciously the night of MacPhail's murder and has been heard boasting that he killed an off-duty police officer. There is only one witness who did not recant his testimony and is not himself a suspect in the murder, but he made an in-court identification of Davis two years after the crime.Davis opponents say Coles came back to the scene of the shooting with a female after police arrived. Davis changed clothes (even asking Coles for a shirt later) and fled to Atlanta with his sister. Davis has repeatedly asked the courts to examine the new exculpatory evidence, but so far has not been successful in persuading a majority of judges to grant him a new trial or conduct a hearing in which the recanting eyewitnesses could be cross-examined to determine the credibility of Davis’ innocence claims. In October 2008, Davis filed a second Habeas petition in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on the grounds that it was the first time Davis was presenting a free-standing innocence claim and that no court has yet held an evidentiary hearing on the exculpatory evidence of recanted testimony. On 16 April 2009 the three-judge panel denied Davis' petition on procedural grounds by a 2-1 majority. Amnesty International has strongly condemned the refusal of U.S. courts to examine the innocence evidence, and has organized rallies and letter-writing campaigns to persuade the Georgia and Federal courts to grant Davis a new trial or an evidentiary hearing. Many prominent politicians and leaders, including President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Presidential candidate Bob Barr, and former FBI Director and judge William S. Sessions have called upon the courts to grant Davis a new trial or evidentiary hearing. On 17 August 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court, over the dissenting votes of two justices, ordered a federal district court in Georgia to consider and rule on whether new evidence "that could not have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes [Davis'] innocence."


Atlanta News reports that a federal judge has set deadlines for coming hearings in the Troy Davis case.

"SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Deadlines that were set by a federal judge in the case of Troy Davis indicate it could be several months before the Georgia death row inmate gets a court hearing on his claims of innocence," the story, published earlier today, begins.

"U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. has given Georgia's attorney general until Oct. 10 to file a written response to an appeal by Davis' lawyers, who said new evidence proves he did not kill Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail in 1989," the story continues.

"The judge's order that was filed Wednesday said Davis' attorneys will have an additional 45 days to respond to the state's written arguments -- likely pushing the case into late November."

The story can be found at: