Published on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 by The
by Bill Rankin
Death-row inmate Troy Anthony Davis on Tuesday will file a last-ditch appeal to the
Undated Department of Corrections mug shot of death row inmate Troy Anthony Davis, convicted of killing a police officer.
"Davis' new evidence eviscerates the state's case against him," the filing said. "Despite substantial new evidence of his innocence, no court has ever held a hearing to assess the scores of new witnesses that show Mr. Davis is innocent."
The petition says that carrying out
Davis, 40, sits on death row for the killing of off-duty Officer Mark Allen MacPhail. The 27-year-old former Army ranger was shot three times before he could draw his weapon. He was responding to the wails of a man being pistol whipped in a Burger King parking lot.
The last time the court granted relief to such an extraordinary petition was in 1925, Jason Ewart, one of
Since then, however, the high court has sent some cases back to federal court judges, directing them to conduct hearings, he said.
"This is the last court that we can go to," Ewart said. "It's something that's not often granted, but we think this is an exceptional case."
Chatham County prosecutors, who tried Davis, have long expressed confidence that
"He's not going to take any action at all until all appeals are exhausted,"
Davis' Supreme Court petition notes that the only two eyewitnesses who have not recanted their trial testimony are Coles, who later told police he had a .38 caliber revolver on the night of the shooting, and Stephen Sanders, who was at the Burger King with his Air Force buddies.
Two hours after the shooting, Sanders told police he could not recognize anyone at the scene except by their clothes. At the trial two years later, Sanders identified
Davis' recantation evidence is exceptional and warrants intervention by the high court, his petition says.
"Few - if any - recantation cases involve consistent, multiple recantations from state witnesses who were innocent bystanders to the crime," the petition says.
In past years,
Davis has lost his bid for a new evidentiary hearing in two important court rulings, both decided by one-vote margins. In March 2008, the
On April 16, the two federal appeals court judges in the majority said they viewed the recantations with skepticism and, after reviewing
In dissent, Judge Rosemary Barkett said to execute
The court kept in place
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs