Davis hearing starts in Savannah federal court

A federal court judge today began hearing evidence about whether a Savannah man on death row for 20 years is innocent.

Troy Anthony Davis, 41, was sentenced to death for the 1989 shooting death of an off-duty police officer. However, his attorneys contend that Davis was wrongfully convicted and point to a number of prosecution witnesses who have recanted their testimony since the original 1991 trial.

The U.S. Supreme Court in August 2009 ordered a federal court judge to “make findings of fact as to whether evidence that could not have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes (Davis’) innocence.”

During today’s hearing, a number of witnesses testified they were pressured by law enforcement into testifying against Davis, according to various media accounts of the hearing. One witness who in 1991 testified Davis admitted to the killing told the court his previous testimony was untrue.

“He never told me nothing like this,” the AJC quoted the witness as testifying. “He never confessed to shooting anybody to me.”

The defense wrapped up its witnesses by about 4:30 today, the Savannah Morning News reported. Then, prosecutors called a number of witnesses, according to the newspaper.

Testimony is expected to continue this morning.

Davis’ execution has been postponed three times.

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