It’s hard to believe but tomorrow, for the first time, a court will hear evidence of Troy Davis’s innocence of a crime he was convicted of almost 20 years ago.
Davis was convicted of the 1989 murder of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail. No physical evidence linked him to the crime. Since his conviction, seven of the nine witnesses who testified against him at trial have recanted their statements. Some witnesses claim that they were coerced by police to say that Davis was the murderer. One of the remaining two witnesses, Sylvester “Redd” Coles, is implicated by nine other witnesses as MacPhail’s killer.
Since his conviction, Davis has tried in vain for state and federal courts to consider these recantations, which could prove his innocence. Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court had to intervene, staying his execution in 2008 and, last year, ordering a federal court to consider this evidence, which brings us to tomorrow’s hearing.
Troy Davis has maintained his innocence since his arrest. In that time, his execution has been put off three times. Once, he was within two hours of being executed.
Davis’s attempt to prove his innocence has been stymied by technicalities and procedural bars. When a man’s life is at stake, it should never be a question whether evidence that could prove his innocence should be heard. Tomorrow is just the beginning of likely another long, possibly multiyear odyssey through the U.S. courts. We’ll keep you posted.