August 24th, 2010
11:43 AM ET

Judge denies Georgia death row inmate's innocence claim

People hold photos of Troy Davis during a 2008 death penalty protest.

A death row prisoner in Georgia has not proved his innocence, a federal court ruled, according to papers released Tuesday.

Troy Davis, 39, was convicted in 1991 of killing Officer Mark MacPhail as MacPhail responded to an altercation in a Burger King parking lot. Seven of the nine witnesses who initially testified that Davis was the killer have recanted. There was no physical evidence presented at his trial, and no weapon was found.
But Davis' petitions for a new trial have been denied.

The Supreme Court granted a stay of execution for him last year, and another federal court later granted him another one, as he fights to overturn his conviction.

Many have asked Georgia to grant Davis a new trial: celebrities like Susan Sarandon, Harry Belafonte and the Indigo Girls; world leaders such as former President Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Pope Benedict XVI; and former and current U.S. lawmakers like Bob Barr, Carolyn Moseley Braun and John Lewis.

Amnesty International had issued a 39-page report questioning his conviction.

Post by:
Filed under: Georgia • Justice
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Fred

    Troy Davis is the killer. He shot and wounded a man outside a bar earlier that night in 1989 and the ballistics clearly matched those found in Officer Macphails body during the autopsy. Davis also fled town immediately following the shooting of Macphail. Whereas the man whom the defense team tried to make it's scapegoat, Sylvester Coles, went to the police and cooperated immediately. Davis is a ruthless violent man and the court made the right decision today in seeing through the smokescreen put up by his attorneys.

    August 24, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • concernedcitizen

      Actually the shooting earlier that night wasn't outside a bar, it was outside a house party, and just because the ballistics matched in both shootings only proves that the same gun was used, not that Davis pulled the trigger. Coles didn't go to police immediately a cooperate either. He paid a lawyer $10,000 in cash to walk him to the police station so he could point the finger at Davis. Coles lied to police about having a gun earlier that night too. Hardly a model a citizen.

      August 24, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Supremo_Lagarto

      Actually, in this man's case it is doubtful that he is the killer. However, he is black and will likely fry simply for that reason.

      October 11, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Supremo_Lagarto

      Fred has all the facts wrong. At this time all of the evidence and recanted eye-witness accounts point to Coles, who also had a stronger criminal history. The problem is that Fred is the man the police grabbed and many police have used his case to promote their careers. They are not about to let him off because it would embarrass too many cops. They would rather let him die in jail, after all, he is just another poor black man. What does his life matter compared to the career of outstanding police officers?

      October 11, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Supremo_Lagarto

      I meant "Troy is the man" not "Fred is the man". I'm not saying a guy talking in this thread is the killer. LOL. Typo.

      October 11, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Charles

    I would agree I’m not too familiar with the case but I’m sure ballistics and the medical examiners along with the detectives that arrived on the scene made the appropriate conclusion based on the evidence that was presented at the crime scene. Everyone who is getting bent out of shape about this trial wasn't even there at the crime scene, so how would any of them know what happened besides biased news articles. As a paramedic I’ve seen many crime scenes and I can promise all of you nothing is ever exactly what the news reports to y'all. Im tired of hearing about public gatherings that think they know more about the crime scene and crime than the state DA, and even go as far as thinking they know better then a judge and/or jury. The U.S. is a funny place to live in were everyone will stress there right to assemble and right of speech to the point of exhaustion.

    August 24, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chaos

      "Everyone who is getting bent out of shape about this trial wasn't even there at the crime scene, so how would any of them know what happened besides biased news articles."

      Um, because there was a trail, transcripts, evidence, witness recantments and all sorts of other relevant information that's not a news article.

      "I’m sure ballistics and the medical examiners along with the detectives that arrived on the scene made the appropriate conclusion based on the evidence that was presented"

      Tell that to the 135 death row inmates exonerated for actual innocence since the death penalty was reinstated.

      "As a paramedic I’ve seen many crime scenes and I can promise all of you nothing is ever exactly what the news reports"

      Which is relevant to the actual case and evidence how? Oh yeah, it isn't.

      "Im tired of hearing about public gatherings that think they know more about the crime scene and crime than the state DA"

      Tell this one too to the 135 exonerated death row inmates. and Oh yeah... you said," I’m not too familiar with the case" yet here you are criticizing others for what you are doing yourself

      For all your pontificating, you sure don't seem to have your act together.

      August 24, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wendy

      Chaos....just because 135 were exhonorated does not make everyone else innocent. Everyone had their trial and had their day in court. A jury convicted this man. Not all the witnesses recanted, those that did should also be charged and convicted of purgery. If this man is found to be truly innocent, then those that lied on the stand are even more guilty than the prosecutor, jury and judge that convicted this man. The courts rely on witness testemony. All these witnesses have shown the court now, is that they are liars. So when were they lieing? 15 years ago? Today? How can you believe any of them now. Not all of them have recanted. Are they liars? They havent recanted so....who is more credible? those sticking to thier stories or those that say "I lied all those years ago"?

      With all your pontification, you sound less credible. Not everyone in jail is innocent. People can grow and change in 15 years. The man you see today is not the same man he was 15 years ago. I am sure you can say the same thing when you look in the mirror.

      August 24, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yeshright

      to the responder claiming 135 innocent people exonerated–Get a clue about exoneration. The 135 inmates were exonerated. Period. That simply means their convictions were thrown out. Some of them were no doubt innocent, but to claim all of them were innocent is a complete joke. Hey, if the state screwed up trying to make the people's case, then let those folks go. But don't go making a fool out of yourself saying they were all innocent. Please!

      August 26, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. Andrew

    No physical evidence? No weapon? Witnesses recanting? Oh please tell me this jury in Georgia wasn't wasting their time eating fast food trying to decide what to do. Here, have some almonds, granola, and other smart people food and give this guy a chance. Speculation does not equal proof!

    August 24, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ric

    Read about another so called innocent man... Roger Keith Coleman

    August 24, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Emily

    The thing about the death penalty is that it's an awfully permanent action to take. With almost no evidence, how could anyone be comfortable killing a man who might well be innocent? It just seems insane to me.

    August 24, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wendy

      I agree....if there is any doubt, then this needs to stop, period. But the way the law looks at it is that the Jury who convicted him removed all doubt. I hope that either way, true justice does prevail.

      August 24, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mark

    They got it right all right.
    It's just sad to see his family have to go through this.
    Good Job Judge in looking through all the BS.

    Se Ya Troy...

    August 24, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chris

    He will get justice. He is a black man in Georgia. Any one making other claims are just being nitpickers.

    August 24, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wendy

      Wow Chris, are you a black man in Georgia? Are you a Man in Georgia? We are not all bigots down here in the south and we are not all racists.

      August 24, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bryan

    This is outrageous, if they execute him then this judge deserves a murder charge.

    August 24, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wendy

      Bryan: The judge is following the law. He cannot overturn a murder coviction unless there is substantial evidence. A jury convicted this man. There are MANY laws that govern this. You cannot just go off your gut feeling, no matter what the judge personnal thinks. Know this, not ALL the witnesses have recanted....so who is telling the truth and who are a bunch of liars. Can you really believe someone who now changes their story or do you believe the two who have stood by their story for all these years? Were you lieing then or now?

      August 24, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. La-Juan

    It really upsets me that most of the comments are without thought. The guy mentioning ballistics need to go back and actually learn how to apply that evidence and the possibilities of what that means. It doesn't put a gun in (that wasn't found) in your hands. Mr paramedic you are correct, but you are a paramedic; not a coroner; not a detective; not even a cop. Other than bodily injury, you conception of what happens is no better than anyone else's, and for the guy tired of people using biased news reports, No physical evidence isn't biased; no gun, isn't biased; witnesses publicly admitting they were wrong about a man who is already incarcerated and has no means of harming them isn't biased. Those are facts. Look at them, study them, and give your comments less of an angry person rant and more of a comment.

    August 24, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Wendy

    There is no way they can put all the details of this case in one news article. Witnesses recanting their testimony, I would hope that someone was convited on more than just witness testimony alone....the witnesses need to be prosecuted for purgery, regardless of how nobel they think they are being now, if this man is truly innocent, then those that lied on the stand will be looking at 7 years behind bars themselves.

    August 24, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tracie

    In order to execute someone there should be not one shred of doubt weither or not the person is guilty. This country is ridiculious, with all these questions how can it hurt to have a new trial. If he really is guilty then the evidence will hold up!

    August 24, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. american citizen

    Not sure what the truth is......... The problem with the way the law is written. The prosecutor can make the evidence fit their story. It isn't necessarily about the truth or actually finding the "real" killer. It is about convicting someone. If any of you have seen the movie "The thin blue line"? You know the prosecutor used the " evidence" to fit his story that he was going to tell in court. How about the prosecutor in Colorado who has gone after a 15 year old for decades believing he was guilty when there was evidence that the victim was dragged by two people? Maybe prosecutors should be held accountable for sending innocent people to die? The justice system is really broken in this country.

    August 24, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Shawn

    Well I look at it this way. Dont put yourself in those types of situations and you wont have to worry. Stay away from trouble, your chances of getting in trouble are much less. If you want to look for trouble thats what you are going to get. I have no idea what was the real story and dont claim to know. I'm sure all the people that are protesting have their own problems and need to attend to those. Take care of yourself! If everyone did that we would have much less problems in society! No matter if you are white, black, green, yellow or brown period.

    August 24, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      Stay away from the wrong people/wrong places and you'll be fine? Sounds like the crappy advice Mom gave me. How can you look at the unfairness of this world and not see that this kind of evil happens everyday? The fact is that injustice happens all the time, whether hurt feelings, or death, is the result. Quit watching TV and look at what is in front of you.

      August 24, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Blue Dog

    Tell you what, let’s kill off all those that there is 100% DNA proof that they killed someone. Then we will have more for those there is question about their guilt or innocence.

    August 24, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lauren

    The facts of this case are a perfect example of the slippery slope we are traveling by using the death penalty. Regardless of whether he has been convicted, there are far too many facts pointing toward his possible innocence to justify execution in this case. I'm not saying he should be set free tomorrow – but a man's life is at stake. In the event the jury got it wrong the first time because they were provided inaccurate evidence, an innocent man would be put to death for a crime he did not commit. The judge may not find that a new trial is appropriate in this case. However, several witnesses recanting their previous statements (which ultimately played a large role in the jury's opinion during trial), should be enough to have his death sentence commuted to a life sentence. He must have been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If those same witnesses testified differently at the trial, I doubt the verdict would have been the same given the lack of physical evidence.

    August 24, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
1 2