As a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer, people, including my family, will ask me about criminal cases that have been in the media. The Georgia murder case involving criminal defendant, Troy Davis, is no different. However, this Savannah, Georgia case hits close to home, considering that I am from the area. Davis is set for execution by the Department of Corrections at 7:00 p.m. this evening. Many people have demonstrated against the execution due to the fact that the witnesses have recanted their testimony. According to reports (Wikipedia.org):
“Former prosecution witness Antoine Williams stated he did not know who had shot MacPhail, and that because he was illiterate he could not read the police statements he had signed in 1989. Other prosecution witnesses, Jeffrey Sapp and Kevin MacQueen testified that Davis had not confessed to them as they had stated at the initial trial. Darrell Collins also recanted his previous evidence that he had seen Davis shoot Cooper and MacPhail. The witnesses variously described their previous testimony against Davis as being the result of feeling scared, of feeling frightened and pressured by police or to get revenge in a conflict with Davis.”
Like many Jacksonville Florida Criminal Lawyers, I find it easier to view an outline of events to better understand a case. Here is an brief timeline of the case (via Yahoo.com):
- Aug. 19, 1989: Savannah police officer Mark McPhail was off-duty and working as a security guard at the local Greyhound bus station. There was a fight at the adjacent Burger King and McPhail went to investigate. He was shot several times and died at the scene.
- Aug. 23, 1989: Davis surrendered to authorities four days later. He was only 19 years old at the time and has been incarcerated for over half his life. Witnesses reported seeing Davis at the scene of the murder and firing a gun.
- Aug. 30, 1991: A jury handed down the death sentence for Davis two years after he was arraigned for the crime. Davis was found guilty on five felony counts including that of malice murder, according to the Georgia attorney general’s office
- Feb. 26, 1993: The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously upheld the sentence and convictions of Davis in a court case. The panel found that evidence had supported each and every one the convictions even though no murder weapon was every found.
- Sept. 9, 1997: Davis had attorneys represent him while he was on death row. The Georgia Supreme Court was again involved in denying leniency for the convicted killer. Davis was disallowed a new trial as judges determined they cannot supplant the role of a qualified jury that found enough evidence to convict him.
- Sept. 26, 2006: Despite several appeals through the court system again, the 11th District of U.S. federal court denied Davis a new trial. Their basis was Davis did not have a substantial claim of innocence.
- August 2009: U.S. Supreme Court took up Davis’ case. Justices instructed a lower court to review the matter once again to see if the convicted killer was actually innocent.
- Sept. 20, 2011: The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles issued its final ruling on the matter. Clemency was denied and the execution is still scheduled for today. PBS states the governor of Georgia has no authority to commute death sentences and the clemency hearing was the final appeal.