Death Penalty

Judge Says New Evidence in Troy Davis Murder Case Is ‘Largely Smoke and Mirrors’

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A Georgia federal judge re-examining the evidence has concluded that jurors would still find death-row inmate Troy Anthony Davis guilty of murder, and new evidence to the contrary is “largely smoke and mirrors.”

U.S. District Judge William Moore issued a 172-page order on Tuesday rejecting Davis’ claim that he is actually innocent of the murder of a police officer. The Christian Science Monitor, the Fulton County Daily Report and USA Today have the stories.

“While the state’s case may not be ironclad, most reasonable jurors would again vote to convict Mr. Davis,” Moore wrote. “A federal court simply cannot interpose itself and set aside a jury verdict in this case absent a truly persuasive showing of innocence. To act contrarily would wreck complete havoc on the criminal justice system.”

The U.S. Supreme Court had required the new hearing in an unusual order issued last year, 10 months after denying cert in the case.

Davis’ lawyers presented evidence that seven of nine witnesses at their client’s original trial have since recanted their testimony. Moore said the new evidence left intact most of the proof at trial, according to the stories. “While Mr. Davis’ new evidence casts some additional, minimal doubt on his conviction, it is largely smoke and mirrors,” he wrote.

The Fulton County Daily Report details Moore’s problems with the recantations. Two of the recanting witnesses were “impossible to believe,” Moore said. Two others recanted in affidavits but didn’t testify in Moore’s hearing, making it impossible to judge their credibility, and two others never directly said they had lied at the original trial, Moore wrote.

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