Death Penalty

Inmate who Claims Innocence Gets Supreme Court Stay of Execution

A Georgia death-row inmate whose claims of innocence have attracted international attention has won a stay of execution from the U.S. Supreme Court.

The stay for Troy Anthony Davis remains in place at least until Monday, when the court decides whether to hear his claim that the Eighth Amendment bars execution of those who are actually innocent, the New York Times reports. Seven of nine witnesses at Davis’ trial for killing a police officer have since recanted their testimony.

The stay was issued less than two hours before Davis was to be executed by lethal injection, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Davis’ lawyers said in their cert petition that the case “allows this court an opportunity to determine what it has only before assumed: that the execution of an innocent man is constitutionally abhorrent.”

In the 1993 case Herrera v. Collins, then-Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist said the court had not yet decided whether a post-trial demonstration of actual innocence makes execution unconstitutional, according to the Times story. He wrote for the court that even assuming unconstitutionality, the inmate in the case had not sufficiently shown his innocence.

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