Having attempted to obtain his freedom for more than twenty years, Georgia death-row inmate Troy Anthony Davis may have lost his final chance when on March 28, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it would neither review Davis’s requested appeal itself nor order the Federal Appeals Court in Atlanta to do so.
Davis and supporters have been battling for his freedom since he was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of off-duty police officer Mark Allen MacPhail in Savannah. He has been scheduled to be put to death three times but each time obtained a stay of execution pending further investigation into his case. Davis had long contended that a review of new evidence would establish his innocence, and when seven out of nine witnesses recanted their testimonies against him, it appeared the legal tide might eventually turn in his favor.
However, although the Supreme Court did order an evidentiary hearing held for Davis last summer, Judge William T. Moore ruled in the hearing that revised statements and the proposed new evidence were not sufficient to confirm Davis’s innocence. He publicly chided Davis’s defense team for their handling of the case even as he himself acknowledged that as yet some doubt did remain regarding the likelihood of Davis’s guilt.
“Passing the Buck”
While Davis’s family and supporters have understandably been fighting for his release, the family members of slain Officer MacPhail have expressed their belief that Davis is guilty and have rallied for his execution.
Upon hearing the news of the Supreme Court’s most recent decision, Davis’s sister Martina Davis-Correia told news reporters, “It’s troubling, it’s upsetting, it’s like everyone wants to pass the buck and no one wants to address the real issue of actual innocence.”
That “passed buck” now sits in the hands of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, a five-member board known to almost never postpone executions.
At this point, Georgia state officials are basically free to move ahead with Davis’s execution. Ironically enough, earlier in March federal regulators seized the state’s supply of the drug sodium thiopental, which is one of the key drugs used to administer lethal injections. Doubts have been raised about how the state obtained its supply of the drug and consequently all executions in Georgia have been placed on hold.
Despite the current outlook, Davis-Correia, who has been waging her own personal battle against cancer, has vowed on behalf of her brother “to continue to fight.”
This is the twelfth installment of Aberjhani’s Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis Series. For part one, please click here . To make sure you catch future installments, please sign up for a free subscription.