Davis execution set for Sept. 21

ATLANTA — A man on death row for the 1989 shooting death of an off-duty Savannah police office is set to be executed by lethal injection on Sept. 21 at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification
Prison in Jackson, the state Department of Corrections said on Wednesday.

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 at least three times pending appeals, and his supporters have organized countless vigils and marches, contending that he has been wrongly convicted.

Davis’ attorneys argue he 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.”

A federal judge in August 2010 ruled that Davis “is not innocent.”

“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 a footnote in the 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.”

If executed, Davis will be the 29th inmate put to death in Georgia by lethal injection.

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