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Death warrant signed for Troy Anthony Davis

posted Sep 6, 2011, 8:49 PM by Kathryn Hamoudah   [ updated Sep 6, 2011, 8:52 PM ]

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

7:35 p.m. Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Chatham County judge on Tuesday signed a death warrant for Troy Anthony Davis, who was convicted of killing a Savannah police officer in 1989.

The warrant sets the execution between Sept. 21 and Sept. 28. The state Department of Corrections will set the actual date. Davis has been on death row for 19 years.

Davis' appeals are exhausted. He is expected to once again ask the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant him clemency. The board has previously denied that request.

Davis, 41, was convicted of killing off-duty police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail 21 years ago as MacPhail ran to the aid of a homeless man being pistol-whipped outside a Burger King.

The case has attracted international attention because a number of key prosecution witnesses either recanted or backed off their trial testimony. Other witnesses have come forward and said another man at the scene told them he was the actual killer.

In August, a federal judge emphatically rejected Davis' claims that he was wrongly convicted. In a 172-page order, U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. said Davis failed to prove his innocence during an extraordinary hearing in June ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court.

MacPhail, 27 and a father of two, was gunned down before he could draw his weapon. After the killing, Sylvester "Redd" Coles went to the police with his lawyer and told them he and Davis were at the scene. At trial, he testified he was fleeing the scene when shots were fired, leaving Davis as the culprit. Coles denied being the triggerman.

At the June hearing, Davis' lawyers wanted to call witnesses who had given sworn statements that Coles had told them after the trial he was the actual killer. But Moore did not allow these witnesses to testify because Davis' lawyers did not subpoena Coles to testify. If they had, the judge said, he could have tested the validity of Coles' alleged confessions.

If Coles had in fact confessed to these witnesses, Moore suggested there could be an explanation --"he believed that his reputation as a dangerous individual would be enhanced if he took credit for murdering Officer MacPhail." Davis failed to prove the alleged confessions were truthful, Moore noted.

Of the seven witnesses Davis' legal team say recanted their trial testimony, "only one is a meaningful, credible recantation." The value of this recantation -- given by a jailhouse snitch who testified Davis told him he killed MacPhail -- is diminished because it was already clear the witness testified falsely at trial, the judge said.

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.

Chatham County Superior Court Judge Penny Freesemann signed the death warrant Tuesday.

Supreme Court rejects appeal from Troy Davis, Georgia death row inmate who claims innocence

posted Mar 28, 2011, 10:27 AM by Kathryn Hamoudah   [ updated Mar 28, 2011, 10:29 AM ]

By Associated Press, Monday, March 28, 1:24 PM

ATLANTA — The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from a Georgia death row inmate who was given a rare chance to argue his innocence but failed to convince a federal judge that he was wrongly convicted of the 1989 murder of a Savannah police officer.

The decision clears the way for state officials to move forward with Troy Davis’ execution, but problems with the state’s supply of a key lethal injection drug put the timing in doubt. Federal regulators this month seized the entire stockpile of the drug, sodium thiopental, amid questions about how the state obtained it. The move effectively put all executions in Georgia on hold.

The court’s rejection of the appeal is the most stinging setback yet for Davis, who has become a cause celebre for the international anti-death penalty movement amid claims that he wasn’t the one who killed off-duty Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail — and that he had evidence to prove it.

He’s been scheduled for executions three times since 2007, but was spared each time by courts agreeing to take another look at his case. After Monday’s ruling, though, even Davis’ attorneys acknowledge his options are limited. Defense attorney Jason Ewart said the likeliest route is the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, a five-member board that rarely postpones executions.

Davis has long claimed he could clear his name in MacPhail’s death if a court gave him the chance to hear new evidence. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2009 agreed he should be able to argue his innocence claim, a rare chance afforded no other American death row defendant in at least 50 years.

But after a hearing in Savannah, U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. ruled in August that the evidence presented by Davis’ attorneys wasn’t nearly strong enough to prove he’s innocent. The judge wrote that while the evidence casts some additional doubt on his conviction, “it is largely smoke and mirrors.”

Davis’ sister said she’s disappointed by the court’s ruling but hopeful that the state pardons board would review the case.

“We have to address the parole board. They said they wouldn’t execute someone if there’s doubt, and this case is so riddled with doubt,” said Martina Correia. “It’s a shame in the U.S. when people don’t value innocence. You would think the highest court in the land would have a lot more sensitivity to these issues.”

MacPhail’s mother, Anneliese MacPhail, said she was hopeful the court’s decision has put to rest Davis’ legal appeals.

“I’m relieved that it’s over now,” said Anneliese MacPhail. “Well, maybe. I’m not believing it until it’s over. It’s been going on for so many years now that every time we think we’re near the end, something else comes up. I just want this to end so badly, you won’t believe it. This has been a nightmare.”

MacPhail was working off-duty at a Savannah bus station on Aug. 19, 1989, when he was shot twice after rushing to help a homeless man who had been attacked. Eyewitnesses identified Davis as the shooter at his trial, but no physical evidence tied him to the slaying.

Davis was convicted of the murder in 1991 and sentenced to death, but his lawyers have argued that several key witnesses at the trial have since recanted their testimony.

During two days of testimony in June, Moore heard from two witnesses who said they falsely incriminated Davis and two others who said another man had confessed to being MacPhail’s killer in the years since Davis’ trial. But Moore concluded that several of the witnesses backed off the incriminating statements during the 1991 trial and that others simply couldn’t be believed.

The case has become a rallying point for death penalty opponents across the globe, attracting support from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Amnesty International and dignitaries such as former President Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict XVI. Several of Davis’ supporters urged the pardons board to commute his sentence.

“No objective person could confidently determine that Davis is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt from the evidence available now in his case,” said Laura Moye of Amnesty International. “That leaves an ominous cloud hanging over an irreversible sentence such as the death penalty.”

___

Associated Press Writer Mark Sherman in Washington contributed to this report.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/supreme-court-rejects-appeal-from-troy-davis-georgia-death-row-inmate-who-claims-innocence/2011/03/28/AFA4VSoB_print.html

Judge rejects Troy Davis innocence claim

posted Aug 24, 2010, 1:04 PM by Kathryn Hamoudah   [ updated Aug 24, 2010, 1:05 PM ]

By Bill Rankin

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

12:19 p.m. Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A federal judge on Tuesday emphatically rejected condemned inmate Troy Anthony Davis' claims that he was wrongly convicted of killing a Savannah Police officer in 1989.

In a 174-page order, U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. said Davis had failed to prove his innocence during an extraordinary hearing this summer ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Ultimately, while Mr. Davis' new evidence casts some additional, minimal doubt on his conviction, it is largely smoke and mirrors," Moore wrote. "The vast majority of the evidence at trial remains largely intact, and the new evidence is largely not credible or lacking in probative value."

Davis sits on death row for killing off-duty police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail as MacPhail ran to the aid of a homeless man being pistol-whipped. Davis's case has attracted international attention because a number of key prosecution witnesses have either recanted or backed off their trial testimony. Other witnesses have come forward and said another man at the scene, Sylvester "Redd" Coles, told them he was the actual killer.

Moore faulted Davis' legal team for not calling Coles to the witness stand during the specially ordered hearing to test the validity of his alleged confessions.

Moore did answer one question posed 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," Moore wrote.

Davis' new evidence, offered during a two-day hearing in June, "does not change the balance of the trial," the judge found.

Of the seven witnesses Davis' legal team say have recanted their trial testimony, "only one is a meaningful, credible recantation." The value of this recantation is diminished, the judge added, because it was already obvious the witness was testifying falsely at trial, Moore wrote.

Davis’ sister, Martina Correia, told The Associated Press her family wasn’t giving up hope.

“We will continue to fight. And we’ll appeal,” Correia said. “I have to talk to the lawyers and find out what the next steps are.”

The victim’s mother, Anneliese MacPhail, said she was pleased by the ruling but nervous that it may not stick.

“I’m not holding my breath,” said MacPhail, 76. “We’ve been through to much to think this is over soon. For 19 years we’ve been going back and forth, and too often in the 11th hour something happens.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Judge stands by decision to exclude testimony in Troy Davis case

posted Aug 12, 2010, 1:22 PM by Kathryn Hamoudah   [ updated Aug 12, 2010, 1:24 PM ]

Atlanta Journal Constitution

By Bill Rankin

A federal judge on Thursday ruled he will stand by his decision to exclude key testimony in the case involving condemned inmate Troy Anthony Davis.

During a hearing in June, U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. barred testimony from a woman who was going to say that Sylvester "Redd" Coles told her that he, not Davis, shot and killed a Savannah police officer in 1989. Moore ruled out Quiana Glover's testimony because Davis' lawyers did not subpoena Coles to testify on his behalf.

"By intentionally presenting unreliable hearsay while keeping [Coles] out of court, [Davis] was seeking to prevent the court from receiving all the evidence, rather than providing the court with a record on which the most accurate determination could be made," Moore wrote.

Davis' case has received international attention because a number of key prosecution witnesses have recanted their testimony since the trial. The U.S. Supreme Court granted Davis the extraordinary hearing to prove his case. Moore has yet to issue a final ruling.

Troy Davis' Evidentiary Hearing Concluded:Both parties asked to send in briefs by July 7

posted Jul 7, 2010, 10:53 AM by Kathryn Hamoudah   [ updated Jul 7, 2010, 10:57 AM ]

At the close of the hearing on June, 24, Judge Moore gave the
lawyers a list of questions that both sides must answer by July 7, and
said he will rule "promptly" after that.

The questions both parties were asked to brief are:

1) Whether the 8th Am. of the US Const. bars the execution of a
petitioner who has had a full and fair trial without constitutional
defect, but can later show his innocence;
2) What the appropriate burden of proof would be in the case of a
petitioner alleging innocence subsequent to a full and fair trial,
assuming that the 8th Am. of the US Const. does bar the execution of
such an individual upon a showing of innocence;
3) Whether 28 USC 2254 (d) [part of AEDPA] bars the Court from
granting relief in this case even if it finds that petitioner can
demonstrate his innocence.


Our coalition partner, Amnesty International, issued the following
statement at the close of Troy Davis’ evidentiary hearing:

Savannah, Ga. -- Anne Emanuel, legal analyst for Amnesty International
USA:

"Given the evidence that emerged from the two-day hearing it is clear
that the state's case  against Troy Davis is thin and tainted.
Today's hearing underscores the deepening doubt that has plagued this
case.  It is difficult to imagine that a jury would convict Davis
today after hearing four of the witnesses who convicted Davis 19 years
ago testify in open court before a judge that they lied. One
eyewitness testified for the first time that he saw his relative, the
alternative suspect, Sylvester "Redd" Coles, shoot police officer Mark
Allen MacPhail in 1989."

TROY DAVIS HEARING MOVED TO JUNE 23

posted Apr 27, 2010, 11:18 AM by Kathryn Hamoudah   [ updated May 1, 2010, 2:31 PM ]

The judge in Savannah's federal district court has moved the hearing to June 23-10am at the Federal Court House in Savannah, GA.

Please disregard the news from the other day that it will be on June 30.  Essentially, lawyers requested that he move the date due to conflicts in their schedules.

Please help the campaign by organizing a vigil or other activity on the day before the hearing (June 22), which is now the Global Day of Solidarity. Well will send more info as it comes.

Please take part in the mosaic photo action -- creating a large visual of Troy with the images of people around the world who want justice in this case:  www.justicefortroy.org

US Supreme Court orders evidentiary hearing

posted Nov 22, 2009, 7:37 PM by James Clark   [ updated Nov 22, 2009, 7:38 PM by Kathryn Hamoudah ]

August 17, 2009: United States Supreme Court grants an evidentiary hearing for Troy Davis!

The Court ordered the Federal District Court in Savannah, GA to hold a hearing to evaluate the new evidence of Troy Davis's innocence.  When held, this hearing will mark the first time the new evidence will be heard in a court of law.  GFADP welcomes the Court's decision and sees this ruling as a significant step towards justice in this case.  The exact date of the hearing is not yet known, but more information will be posted here as it becomes available.  See the Troy Davis Media page for media coverage of the Court's decision, including discussion of new legal questions regarding the future of the death penalty in light of the Court's ruling.

Click here for the majority opinion by Justice Stevens
Click here for the dissenting opinion by Justice Scalia

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