Legal experts and observers don’t quite know what to expect next in the case of Georgia death row prisoner Troy Davis.
An evidentiary hearing in the case, ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court, ended more than a week ago at a federal court in Savannah. The hearing was extremely rare, and legal experts are unsure how Judge William T. Moore Jr. will rule. 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.
According to a report by the Associated Press, some experts say the judge could order a new trial while others say the judge could make a recommendation that Davis be freed from prison entirely because a new trial would amount to double jeopardy.
“There is some ambiguity,” said John H. Blume, a Cornell Law School professor who specializes in death penalty appeals. “Whenever you’ve got something this new, that hasn’t happened all these years, you’re really making your best guess.” A major factor in the ruling will be how much the judge believes in seven of the nine eyewitnesses who 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.
There are also constitutional issues the judge must consider since Georgia already rejected Davis’ claims of innocence.
The judge hasn’t laid out what options he’s considering in Davis’ case, and hasn’t given himself a deadline to rule. The Supreme Court has recessed until October, so the wait could be weeks if not months.