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25 Aug, 2010 23:49

US death row inmate Troy Davis' innocence claim rejected

Troy Davis was convicted of murdering a Georgia police officer in 1991 and sentenced to death. Although the case against him appears to have fallen apart, he remains on death row.

In 2009 the US Supreme Court ordered a new evidentiary hearing for Davis, giving him another opportunity to prove his innocence.

A federal judge has now ruled Davis failed to prove his innocence – despite no physical evidence against him, seven of the nine witnesses recanting their earlier testimonies against him, and still others naming another man all together as the killer. The judge simply referred to the new evidence as "smoke and mirrors.”

The case gained international attention and has led many to believe an innocent man may be put to death.

You have a case based, like you said in your introduction, completely based on witness testimony, no hard physical evidence, and their witnesses have basically fallen apart entirely,” said Michael Stark, an anti-death penalty activist.

Stark further explained that evidence exists than another individual carried out the murder and actually confessed to doing so to another person. Witnesses have come forward stating that they had lied on the stand at earlier trials, yet the judge ruled against Davis.

This information was swept aside,” said Stark.

The Pope, through the US Envoy for the Pope, former US President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have come out against the execution of Davis, citing violations of human life and failures in the US justice system.

The Judge in the case admitted that the prosecution had not presented an “ironclad” case; however he argued Davis had not proven his innocence, regardless of the fact that in the US one is supposedly innocent until proven guilty.

Flipping the standard of proof completely on its head,” said Stark.

Thomas Ruffin Jr., one of the attorneys for Troy Davis called the judge’s decisions a “terrible mistake”. Ruffin explained that the initial trail was unfair due to discrimination and police pressure on witnesses to lie in court, which is why he was awarded another opportunity to present his case.

Ruffin said the evidence of Davis’ innocence was powerful and should have lead to a change in verdict, the judge should have seen that the evidence against Davis had fallen apart and did not show guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

People make mistakes and then in this matter the judge’s decision essentials says, whether there’s a mistake or not what’s more important than whether people made mistakes is the process, and the worshiping of process at the expense of a man’s life, worshiping the process at the expense of proof of innocence that’s discounted is something that discredits the system to a degree I wonder what justice really is,” said Ruffin.