Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Georgia: Troy Davis. End Game

The Washington Post reports that a "last-minute bid" to stop the execution of Troy Davis has resulted in a rally of religious leaders "in previously unseen numbers." Indeed, it is reported that "more than 3,000 religious leaders from all 50 states" have signed a letter "urging" State's Board of Pardons to consider “developments that cast serious doubt on Davis’ guilt.” Davis was convicted for the 1989 shooting of a police officer. But it is said that seven out of the nine witnesses against him have since "recanted" or "contradicted" themselves. Davis' execution has been delayed three times already, for the purposes of considering additional evidence. See Post story here.

Click here to read Judge William T. Moore's opinion rejecting the argumentation of Davis' lawyers which says, among other things:
Not all recantations are created equal; a witness may recant only a portion of their testimony or the witness may recant in a manner that is not credible. To hear Mr. Davis tell it, this case involves credible, consistent recantations by seven of nine state witnesses. However, this vastly overstates his evidence.

Two of the recanting witnesses neither directly state that they lied at trial nor claim that their previous testimony was coerced. Two other recantations were impossible to believe, with a host of intrinsic reasons why their author's recantation could not be trusted, and the recantations were contradicted by credible, live testimony. Two more recantations were intentionally and suspiciously offered in affidavit form rather than as live testimony, blocking any meaningful cross-examination by the state or credibility determination by this Court. Moreover,these affidavit recantations were contradicted by credible, live testimony. While these latter two recantations are not totally valueless, their import is greatly diminished by the suspicious way in which they were offered and the live, contrary testimony.

Finally, Kevin McQueen's recantation is credible, but his testimony at trial was patently false, as evidenced by its several inconsistencies with the State's version of the events on the night in question. Accordingly, it is hard to believe Mr. McQueen's testimony at trial was important to the conviction, rendering his recantation of limited value. Ultimately, four of Mr. Davis's recantations do not diminish the State's case because a reasonable juror would disregard the recantation, not the earlier testimony; and the three others only minimally diminish the State's case.

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