Thursday, June 24, 2010

Troy Davis' Rare Innocense Hearing Continues

Witnesses Recant Testimony

The hearing for Troy Anthony Davis continues today in a Savannah, Georgia courtroom. Davis is on death row. He is presenting evidence concerning his claim of innocence in the murder of a Savannah police officer in 1989.

He was granted extraordinary relief by the U.S. Supreme. Davis filed an original writ of habeas corpus, a request for his release filed directly with the Supreme Court rather than in the lower court, a claim that has been sparingly granted in the last 100 years.

Last year, the Court ruled by a vote of 7 to 2, that the district court was to "receive testimony and make findings of fact as to whether evidence that could have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes [Davis'] innocence," In re Troy Anthony Davis, 557 U.S. ___ (2009),

Yesterday, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported, four key prosecution witnesses gave markedly different statements than those they gave at trial, either saying they never saw Davis kill a Savannah policeman or never heard him confess to the crime.

Also Wednesday, a 36-year-old prison inmate offered surprise testimony, saying in court for the first time that he witnessed another man shooting and killing off-duty police officer Mark Allen MacPhail as he rushed to help a homeless man being pistol-whipped in a Burger King parking.

The Journal Consitution also reported that the state called several witnesses. State attorneys called three Savannah-Chatham County police officers to the stand at the close of Wednesday's testimony. The officers insisted they did not threaten or coerce any witness into giving false testimony. Lt. Carl Ramey testified that Sapp flagged down police to tell them Davis had told him he killed MacPhail.

"I know why you're here," Sapp told officers patrolling the neighborhood, Ramey testified. "You're here for Troy."

Burton noted the officers conducted interviews just a few hours after the killing, suggesting there was not enough information available at the time to tell a witness what to say, even if the officers were inclined to do such a thing.

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