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An execution date was set for Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis. Davis, 42, is scheduled to be executed on September 21. This is the fourth time an execution date has been set for Davis. Amnesty International has renewed the call for clemency amid news of the new execution date.
Davis “could very well be innocent,” said Laura Moye, the head of Amnesty’s Death Penalty Abolition Campaign. “It’s difficult to believe that a system of justice could be so terribly flawed.” Davis was convicted for killing an off-duty police officer in 1989. Davis has maintained his innocence throughout the twenty years he has remained on death row.
Many celebrities, including Susan Sarandan, Desmond Tutu, Jesse Jackson and the Pope, have asked Georgia to give Davis a new trial. No DNA evidence was used and the conviction was based primarily on eyewitness testimony. Since the conviction, seven out of nine eyewitnesses have since recanted their stories. However, Davis has been unable to get a new trial.
In March, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Davis’ request that his execution be delayed in order to gain more time to prove his “actual innocence.” Upon reviewing Davis’ claims of innocence, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia found last year that Davis “vastly overstates the value of his evidence of innocence.”
“Some of the evidence is not credible and would be disregarded by a reasonable juror,” Judge William T. Moore wrote in a 172-page opinion. “Other evidence that Mr. Davis brought forward is too general to provide anything more than smoke and mirrors,” the court found.
Families react to the news on Wednesday of the new execution date. “The family’s still feeling optimistic. We’ve been down this road countless times to where you know executing date, clemency hearing, and then at the execution things get changed so we’re still playing very cautious,” Mark MacPhail Jr., son of the murdered police officer, told local news on Wednesday.
Davis’ sister Martina Correia has always been his biggest advocate. “I’m very disappointed in Georgia because there’s still doubt, but I’m holding the parole board to their standard that when there’s doubt that they won’t execute,” Correia stated. A clemency hearing has been set for September 19th.
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