Johnson wants state to reconsider clemency

ATLANTA — Three Congressmen, including one from Georgia, today asked the state’s Board of Pardons and Paroles to reconsider clemency for convicted cop killer Troy Anthony Davis.

Davis, 42, is set to be executed at 7 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson for the August 1989 shooting death of off-duty Savannah police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail.

Davis’ execution has been previously postponed three times pending appeals. His supporters have organized countless vigils and marches, contending that he has been wrongly convicted, pointing to a number of prosecution witnesses who have recanted their testimony since the original 1991 trial.

Arguments over the testimony that led to Davis’ conviction and death sentence 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 Davis “is not innocent.”

“As a criminal defense attorney, judge and member of the House Judiciary Committee, it disturbs me to my core that an unnecessary and unjust killing may take place,” U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., said in a statement. “If we execute a man despite new evidence that casts doubt on his guilt, it shakes the public’s faith in the integrity of justice in Georgia.”

The full letter:

Chairman James E. Donald
Georgia State Board of Pardons & Paroles
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE
Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

RE: Troy Anthony Davis Pending Execution Scheduled for September 21, 2011

Dear Chairman Donald and Members of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles:

We are writing to urge you to reconsider your decision to conclude Troy Davis’ clemency hearing on September 19, 2011.  It is our understanding that Mr. Davis’ defense team was unable to finish presenting its evidence in support his request for clemency.

We understand that, due to time constraints, the Board was unable to hear from Dr. Jennifer E. Dysart, an expert on eyewitness identifications.  We attach the letter written by the Innocence Project, which elaborates the myriad reasons that Dr. Dysart’s testimony is critical.  As you are well aware, the only evidence linking Mr. Davis to the crime is eyewitness testimony.  Given the gravitas of the task with which you were charged, and what the research tells us about this type of evidence, we urge you to give new consideration to concluding Mr. Davis’ hearing without hearing from this critical expert.


John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member
Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland SecurityHank Johnson, Member

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