Troy Davis Case Highlights Death Penalty Problems

For Immediate Release

Troy Davis Case Highlights Death Penalty Problems

WASHINGTON - BARRY SCHECK, PAUL CATES, pcates at innocenceproject.org
Scheck is the co-director of the Innocence Project, which “works to exonerate wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.” He said today: “Troy Davis was executed in spite of serious doubt about his guilt. The state clemency system in Georgia and in many other states is not functioning as an effective safety valve in cases where there is serious doubt about guilt. Any objective, fair-minded observer would have to conclude the risk of executing an innocent person in the U.S. is unacceptably high.”

Cates is the director of communications for the group. He said today: “Since his original trial, substantial evidence has come to light pointing to Davis’ innocence. The Georgia Bureau of Investigations has conceded that the ballistics evidence used against Davis was unreliable, and one of the jurors who sat on the case said that if she had known about that she would not have voted to give Davis the death penalty. Seven of the nine witnesses who identified him as the shooter have recanted their testimony. One of the two witnesses who maintain that Davis was the shooter is thought by many to be the real perpetrator and has made admissions to others that he committed the crime. The other remaining eyewitness had been up for 24 hours straight at the time he observed the shooting and reported on the night of the crime that he ‘wouldn’t recognize [the shooter] again.’ Yet two years later, this witness identified Troy Davis in an in-court identification that required him to simply identify the only African-American sitting at the defense table.

“Misidentification was a factor in 75 percent of the 273 DNA exonerations. In 38 percent of these mistaken identification cases, multiple eyewitnesses misidentified the same person.”

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