News 06.24.10

Hearings Continue for Georgia Death Row Prisoner


Hearings are continuing today

in the case of Troy Davis, who has been on Georgia’s death row since 1991 for a murder he says he didn’t commit. A federal judge is considering new evidence of Davis’ innocence after a rare U.S. Supreme Court ruling ordered the court to hold a new evidentiary hearing.

Davis was convicted nearly two decades ago in the killing of an off-duty police officer in 1989.   For the past ten years, he has fought to present his claims of innocence in open court. Two years ago the Innocence Project joined with the Innocence Network in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in federal court on Davis’ behalf, arguing that eyewitness identification – a major contributor to Davis’ conviction – is often unreliable and that the case should be subject to review on appeal.

In

a post at CNN

, Benjamin Todd Jealous, the president and CEO of the NAACP, said the Supreme Court’s decision to order the hearing is an indication that they are concerned about the constitutionality of executing the innocent.

A close examination of the case indicates there was no physical evidence that tied him to the crime, no weapon was ever recovered and seven of the nine eyewitnesses have recanted or changed their original testimony in sworn affidavits, citing alleged police coercion.

This week’s hearing is allowing the testimony of witnesses who have recanted or contradicted their original eyewitness testimonies to be heard and examined in a court of law.  Seven of the nine eyewitnesses have recanted or changed their testimony with one witness saying he was threatened by police that he would be held as an accessory to murder. Jealous writes:

Mr. Davis will be expected to prove his innocence rather than for the state to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is especially challenging given that the crime happened more than 20 years ago and there is no physical evidence, such as DNA.


An Atlanta Journal-Constitution article

today compares the testimony of several witnesses with their testimony at this week’s hearing.

For live updates from the hearings, follow Amnesty International’s Laura Moye

on Twitter

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Download the Innocence Network’s brief here

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