Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Georgia Death Row Inmate Gets Stay of Execution

Troy Davis, a 38-year-old black man, was convicted and sentenced to death in Georgia for the killing of an off-duty policeman way back in 1991.

Davis was convicted based solely on the eyewitness testimony of nine individuals. Now seven of them have recanted their testimony and stated that the police coerced them into identifying Davis as the shooter.

So you'd think that this case would be tailor-made for a US Supreme Court decision remanding it for a new trial, at the very least.

But you would be wrong.

It was the Georgia state parole board that made the decision after the Supreme Court refused to get involved. Made it at the eleventh hour. Davis was already resigned to his fate, only to be jerked back into the land of hope. Jesus, talk about cruel and unusual punishment.

Such notable individuals as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former FBI director William Sessions have spoken out against Davis' execution, and Sessions even went as far as submitting a formal request for clemency.

Meanwhile we have a court ruled by activist judges, led by Antonin Chief-Justice-in-Everything-But-the-Title Scalia crowing that not one single person put to death by the state has later been proven innocent.

While I think that statement is flat wrong, proving it is another thing. I do seem to recall a case out of Texas a few years back where a death row inmate petitioned the court because incontrovertible evidence had come to light that indicated that his brother had committed the crime. But in that case, the court held that innocence or guilt did not enter into it -- only whether he had gotten a "fair trial".

He had, case closed, hello Sparky.

So back to Davis. He's not off the hook yet. All this does is extend his execution date out 90 days, to give parole board members time to examine the new evidence and decide whether Davis will be murdered by the state.

Davis has thus far been unable to get a court to look at the new evidence, so it's not clear what the parole board will -- or can -- do after it's examined the new facts.