News & Politics

Supreme Court Rejects Troy Davis Case, Gives Green Light for His Execution

An innocent man could die in two weeks if the state of Georgia seeks a new death warrant.
This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider the case of Georgia death row prisoner Troy Anthony Davis, giving the go-ahead for his execution. The Court's decision came mere weeks after it blocked Davis's execution at the last minute so that the justices could examine his appeal, something they were scheduled to do six days later anyway. Davis was less than two hours away from the death chamber on September 23, when the Court intervened; it was the second time Davis had come within hours of death; last summer, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole granted a temporary reprieve based on overwhelming evidence of his possible innocence. Among other factors, seven out of nine eyewitnesses who testified against Davis at trial have since recanted, with some saying they were coerced by the police. Of the two who have not recanted, one, a man named Sylvester Coles is said by many to be the real murderer.

Troy Davis has been on death row since 1991, having been convicted of the 1989 killing of a white police officer in Savannah, Georgia. Read more about the case here.

The Supreme Court's decision this morning -- in which the judges refused to consider whether executing a potentially innocent person violates the 8th Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment -- could mean that Davis will be executed as soon as two weeks from now. He is out of legal avenues, and the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied clemency. There is no execution date scheduled yet; the Georgia DA must seek a new death warrant first. Go here for information on what you can do to pressure the state of Georgia NOT to go through with this execution.

Davis has won the support of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, including President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the Pope. Georgia Congressman and Civil Rights icon John Lewis has firmly stated his belief in Davis's innocence; as he told Amy Goodman on the morning of the September execution date, "race is everything in this case."
This is a very sad and grave day in the state of Georgia, in our nation and in the world. A man that could really be innocent -- and all of the evidence tends to dramatize and quantify that this man may go to his death later today as an innocent human being. And when you commit that final decision and later discover that he is truly, truly innocent of the crime that he's been accused of committing, there is not any way to bring him back. I just think it's wrong and it's unfair, and it will be the greatest miscarriage of justice.
Davis's sister, Martina Correia, who has been fighting for her brother for the past ten years, decried the decision. "Oh, God. I think it's disgusting, terrible. I'm extremely disappointed," she said. "Well, we still have to fight. We can't stop."
Liliana Segura is a staff writer and editor of AlterNet's Rights and Liberties and War on Iraq Special Coverage.
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