From the Atlanta-Journal Constitution:
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday gave Troy Anthony Davis the chance to present evidence in court that the condemned man has said for years will clear him of the murder of a Savannah police officer.
The high court ordered a federal judge to “receive testimony and findings of fact as to whether evidence that could not have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes [Davis’s] innocence.”
Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, issued a dissent, saying the federal judge assigned to hear the case will not be able to grant Davis relief. “It becomes stranger still when one realizes that the allegedly new evidence we shunt off to be examined by the district court has already been considered (and rejected) multiple times,” Scalia wrote.
But Justice John Paul Stevens cited prior court precedent that said it would be “an atrocious violation of our Constitution and the principles upon which it is based” to execute an innocent man.
“Imagine a petitioner in Davis’s situation who possesses new evidence conclusively and definitively proving, beyond any scintilla of doubt, that he is an innocent man,” Steven wrote. “The dissent’s reasoning would allow such a petitioner to be put to death nonetheless.”
Davis sits on death row for the killing of off-duty Savannah police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail in 1989. His bid to the nation’s highest court was his last chance in the court system.
Since Davis’s 1991 trial, seven of nine state witnesses have recanted their testimony and other witnesses have implicated Sylvester “Redd” Coles as the shooter. Coles, who has denied killing MacPhail, was at the scene and was the first person to implicate Davis in the shooting.
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