Seven of nine key witnesses who implicated Troy Anthony Davis in the murder of a Savannah, Ga., police officer, have recanted their testimony since the 1991 trial, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Some say they lied initially or withheld vital information. They were young then, as fearful of the police as they were of neighborhood thugs. Some were in trouble with the law and say they acted out of self-preservation. “This is real. The death warrant has been signed. An innocent man is going to die,” says April Hester Hutchinson.
Because of a 1996 federal law that aims to accelerate death penalty appeals, courts have ruled that new evidence cannot be considered in a capital case if it should have been presented during the appeals process. In this case, Police did not find a murder weapon. Nor was there any DNA evidence. The prosecution relied on the testimony of eyewitnesses. Davis is scheduled to die tomorrow unless the state Board of Pardons and Paroles decides to commute his sentence. A clemency hearing is set for today. Though never heard in court, the witness recantations fuel hope for Davis’ defense and an army of anti-death-penalty forces, including Amnesty International, which decry the state for putting to death a possibly innocent man.