WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by a Georgia death row inmate who says he is innocent of murder and who sought a new trial or a hearing to examine recently discovered evidence.
The nation’s high court refused to review the case of Troy Davis, who was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1989 killing of a police officer in Savannah, Georgia.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu have been among those who have expressed concern about the fairness of Davis’ trial.
Just hours before he was scheduled to be put to death by injection on Sept. 23, the Supreme Court granted a stay of execution while it considered his appeal. The stay ends now that the court turned down his appeal. Davis, 39, says he is innocent and his lawyers say it was a case of mistaken identity. But attorneys for the state rejected the assertions of innocence by Davis and his claims of substantial new evidence of innocence.
Lawyers for Davis said in the appeal to the Supreme Court that seven of nine prosecution witnesses have recanted their trial testimony and several new witnesses have identified or implicated a different individual as the shooter who killed police officer Mark MacPhail in a parking lot.
But prosecutors rejected the claims of the recanting witnesses. The Georgia Supreme Court agreed with the prosecutors in March when it upheld the ruling by the judge in the case to reject a new trial without even conducting a earing.
Lawyers for Davis asked the Supreme Court to rule that the U.S. Constitution creates a right of the innocent not to be executed when substantial new evidence of innocence has been discovered.