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Lawyers for Troy Anthony Davis File Final Appeal to Save Him

Black America Web.com, News Report, Jackie Jones Posted: May 20, 2009

As supporters prepared to rally at the Georgia state capitol Tuesday evening calling for clemency for Troy Anthony Davis, a death row inmate convicted of a murder that anti-death penalty activists say he most likely did not commit, his lawyers filed a final appeal earlier in the day to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Davis lawyers asked the high court to send their clients case back to federal court for an evidentiary hearing on his claim that he did not kill a Savannah police officer. The filing contends that Davis constitutional rights would be violated if the state of Georgia was allowed to executive him without a hearing on what the lawyers described as substantial new evidence of his innocence.

According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Davis was convicted in 1991 of killing an off-duty Savannah, Georgia police officer largely on the basis of eyewitness testimony, but seven of the nine witnesses who implicated Davis in the killing have recanted, and other witnesses have come forward to say another man had confessed to killing Officer Mark MacPhail.

Furthermore, there is no physical evidence tying Davis to the crime, and the gun used in the crime has never been recovered.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected Davis application for clemency, but his execution date was stayed in October by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals pending further examination. The appeals court rejected the appeal on April 16 but kept the stay in place to allow Davis lawyers to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, which must decide whether to take up his case. If this final level of appeal fails, a new date will be set for Davis execution unless Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue gives him clemency.

This is the last court that we can go to, Ewart told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Its something thats not often granted, but we think this is an exceptional case.

Lydia Sermons, spokeswoman for Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm, told the Journal Constitution the prosecutor would take no action until all of Davis appeals were exhausted.

Davis case raises questions about the fairness of the death penalty because of the questionable circumstances of the case and because not only are black men more likely to be executed, but executions are more likely when the victim was white than black.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund report, "Death Row USA 2008," says that 79 percent of the victims in cases where the convict was executed were white, compared to 1.35 percent of black victims.

According to the Bureau of Justice of Statistics, by the end of 2005, there were 3,145 black male prison inmates per 100,000 in the United States, compared to 471 white male inmates per 100,000.

In Georgia, 44 men have been executed since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1973. Currently, there are 106 men and one woman on the state's death row.

In addition to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Davis cause has been taken up by Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and Amnesty International USA, which planned Tuesdays rally.

A letter to petition Gov. Perdue for clemency also can be found on the coalitions Web site, and his office can be contacted directly here.

Related Articles:

Another Possibly Innocent Man Faces Execution

Another Cruel and Unusual Punishment for Teens

Boy Monster at the Center of the World

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