GEORGIA (USA). IMPENDING EXECUTION STAYED
July 16, 2007: Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles today temporarily halted the execution of Troy Anthony Davis less than 24 hours before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection.
The board issued a 90-day stay of execution after a 9-hour closed-door clemency hearing in which last-minute questions of his innocence were raised. The board did not release its vote.
The purpose of the stay is for "evaluating and analyzing the evidence provided during the board appointment," according to a press release issued by the parole board.
Troy Anthony Davis, who is African American, was convicted in 1991 of murdering Mark MacPhail, a white police officer. The prosecution had no physical evidence linking Davis to the crimes including the murder weapon, and based its case on the testimony of witnesses.
Though Davis, now 38, vehemently proclaimed his innocence, in the end pleaded guilty to the murder of McPhail and has since served 15 years on death row.
Among the most ardent supporters of Troy Davis, his sister Martina Correia helped reopen the case.
Since the trial, she and defense attorneys say several of the witnesses have admitted they lied or exaggerated their testimony, because they were pressured by police. In affidavits filed between 1996 and 2003, seven of the nine non-police witnesses have recanted or contradicted their original testimony.
Davis' attorneys also claimed that they have affidavits from other 9 witnesses that claim it wasn't Davis who shot MacPhail to death on Aug. 19, 1989. These 9 assert that one of the two who hasn't recanted is actually responsible for the murder: Sylvester "Red" Coles.
Despite this, Davis' habeas corpus petition was denied by the state court on a technicality -- evidence of police coercion was "procedurally defaulted," that is, not raised earlier, so the court did not take it. The Georgia Supreme Court and 11th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals deferred to the state court and rejected Davis' claims, and earlier this month the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his case. (Sources: Associated Press, Amnesty International USA, 16/07/2007)