Federal Judge Upholds Conviction for Death Row Inmate

On Tuesday Atlanta appeals attorneys noted that U.S. District Judge William Moore upheld the murder conviction of Troy Davis. He did so after a special evidentiary hearing in June that was ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether Davis is innocent.

The Supreme Court directed the federal judge to conduct a reexamination of the case after Mr. Davis and his lawyers presented affidavits saying that witnesses at the original trial had recanted their testimony. Seven out of the nine witnesses have recanted.

Davis was convicted and sentenced to die for the 1989 shooting death of Mark MacPhail, a Savannah Police Officer.

Davis’s case has garnered international attention because of claims that an innocent man was about to be executed.

Judge Moore held the evidentiary hearing on June 24. On August 24th, the judge issued a 174-page order concluding that Davis is guilty.

The judge wrote: “This court concludes that executing an innocent person would violate the Eighth Amendment. However, Mr. Davis is not innocent.”

Judge Moore said that Davis’s new evidence did not raise enough doubt about his original conviction.

One of the witnesses now says that he lied at trial when he testified that he heard Davis confess to the killing. Another witness said he had heard a different man admit to the shooting. There were also conflicting reports about the color of Davis’s shirt on the night of the killing.

The Supreme Court transferred the matter back to a federal judge with instructions to “receive testimony and make findings of fact as to whether evidence that could not have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes [Mr. Davis’s] innocence.”

Judge Moore concluded: “The vast majority of evidence at trial remains intact, and the new evidence is largely not credible or lacking in probative value. After careful consideration, the court finds that Mr. Davis has failed to make a showing of actual innocence.”

Source: Christian Science Monitor, “Death row inmate Troy Davis: Judge upholds conviction,” August 25, 2010