In an attempt to prevent Troy Davis from being killed by lethal injection tonight, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that his lawyers "filed a court motion seeking a stay of tonight's execution in Superior Court in Butts County, home to Georgia's death row." Additionally, his lawyers asked prison officials to perform a polygraph test on Davis, but they were turned away; one said, "We came here to try and prove Mr. Davis is innocent and unfortunately we were denied that opportunity by the Department of Corrections."
Davis was convicted for the 1989 killing of an off-duty police officer, who was working as a security guard, in Savannah. However, many questions have been raised about the quality of the prosecution's case, including witnesses allegedly being threatened by police officers, and the Supreme Court stepped in at one point to delay the execution. The case has attracted more attention as Davis' fourth execution date, planned for tonight at 7 p.m., has loomed, thanks to the Internet, and yesterday's decision by the Georgia State Board of Paroles and Pardons to deny clemency prompted protests.
The NY Times published an editorial today, calling the scheduled execution "A Grievous Wrong":
The grievous errors in the Davis case were numerous, and many arose out of eyewitness identification. The Savannah police contaminated the memories of four witnesses by re-enacting the crime with them present so that their individual perceptions were turned into a group one. The police showed some of the witnesses Mr. Davis’s photograph even before the lineup. His lineup picture was set apart by a different background. The lineup was also administered by a police officer involved in the investigation, increasing the potential for influencing the witnesses...
Under proper practices, no one should know who the suspect is, including the officer administering a lineup. Each witness should view the lineup separately, and the witnesses should not confer about the crime. A new study has found that even presenting photos sequentially (one by one) to witnesses reduced misidentifications — from 18 percent to 12 percent of the time — compared with lineups where photos were presented all at once, as in this case.
Seven of nine witnesses against Mr. Davis recanted after trial. Six said the police threatened them if they did not identify Mr. Davis. The man who first told the police that Mr. Davis was the shooter later confessed to the crime. There are other reasons to doubt Mr. Davis’s guilt: There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime introduced at trial, and new ballistics evidence broke the link between him and a previous shooting that provided the motive for his conviction.
In the AJC, Mike Luckovich's cartoon questions the justice.
Tonight's other planned execution is in Texas: Lawrence Brewer, convicted of dragging James Byrd to death. Brewer remains unrepentant for the brutal hate crime. The National Coalition Against the Death Penalty opposes both executions.