I admit that I don’t know as much as I should about the Troy Davis case. I know, as you might, that 20 years ago, Davis was convicted quickly and sentenced to die in Georgia for the killing of off-duty policeman Mark MacPhail two years earlier. I understand also that a significant movement believes that Mr. Davis may be as he maintains: innocent.
As noted in this article about Mr. Davis’ brief 2007 stay of execution, most of the witnesses have recanted or contradicted their earlier testimony (and some alleged that they were coerced into giving it). There appears to be no physical evidence linking Mr. Davis, now 41, to the crime, and no murder weapon was found. His last appeal was denied by the Supreme Court earlier this year.
The Department of Corrections said Wednesday that Troy Anthony Davis will be executed at 7:00 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT) on Sept. 21 for the 1989 slaying of Mark MacPhail.
It marks the fourth time since 2007 that state officials have set a date to execute Davis. The order comes after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution by refusing to overrule a federal judge who decided Davis failed to clear his name after getting a rare chance to prove his innocence.
That federal judge turned away Mr. Davis’ claims last month, and one of his quotes, as stated in that AJC article, has stayed with me:
Moore answered one question posed to him by the U.S. Supreme Court. He found that executing an innocent person would violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban against cruel and unusual punishment.
“However, Mr. Davis is not innocent,” the U.S. district judge wrote in August.
An aside: considering Texas Governor Rick Perry’s own history of executing a prisoner whose innocence seems more than possible, I wonder whether this news might prompt a death-penalty question tonight at his first Republican presidential debate. You can learn more about Troy Davis and his case (as I did) here, here, here and here.