Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

When I met Troy Davis earlier this year, I was convinced of his innocence. Why did it take the American justice system so long to act?

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MEHDI FEDOUACH/AFP/Getty Images

After years of heartbreak and disappointment, Troy Davis is finally getting a chance to have evidence heard in his case after being denied a fair trial since he was arrested almost two decades ago.

It should never have taken the American justice system this long to act.

Troy Davis was unjustly convicted and sentenced to die in 1991 for the murder of Mark Allen MacPhail, an off-duty policeman who was shot while working a second job as a security guard at a Burger King in Savannah, Ga.

There was no physical evidence linking Davis to the crime and seven of the nine witnesses recanted or contradicted their testimony, citing police coercion. One witness, a 16-year-old, said police threatened to hold him as an accessory to murder, warning that he would "go to jail for a long time and I would be lucky if I ever got out because a police officer got killed.”

Of the two eyewitnesses who stuck to their stories, Sylvester "Redd” Coles was himself considered a suspect in the killing. The other initially told police he could not identify the shooter.