A federal judge today declined to overturn the murder conviction and death sentence of a Savannah man convicted in the shooting death of an off-duty police officer more than 20 years ago.
Troy Anthony Davis, 41, was sentenced to death for the August 1989 shooting death of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail. Davis’ execution has been postponed a number of times.
Davis’ attorneys argue that Davis was wrongfully convicted and point to a number of prosecution witnesses who have recanted their testimony since the original 1991 trial, according to published reports. The arguments prompted the U.S. Supreme Court in August 2009 to order 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.”
“After careful consideration and an in-depth review of twenty years of evidence, the Court is left with the firm conviction that while the State’s case may not be ironclad, most reasonable jurors would again vote to convict Mr. Davis of Officer MacPhail’s murder,” U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore Jr. wrote in his opinion. “A federal court simply cannot interpose itself and set aside the jury verdict in this case absent a truly persuasive showing of innocence. To act contrarily would wreck complete havoc on the criminal justice system.”
Moore oversaw a two-day hearing in Savannah in June.
“Mr. Davis is not innocent,” Moore wrote.
“Ultimately, while Mr. Davis’s 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 intact, and the new evidence is largely not credible or lacking in probative value.”