Troy Davis was executed in Georgia on Wednesday, September 21, despite huge protests and criminal justice appeals. Davis was convicted in 1991 of killing a police officer who was on security patrol. Many people critical of the death penalty used the Davis case as an example of what is wrong with the U.S. criminal defense and criminal justice system.
The 1989 shooting death of an off-duty police officer left much doubt about whether Davis was responsible for the murder. There was no physical evidence connecting Davis to the murder. According to court reports of the incident, a group of people were assaulting a homeless man when the off-duty cop came to the scene. Witnesses say a man pulled a gun and shot the officer. He later died.
Several witnesses that testified at trial have later recanted their account of the incident, saying that police coerced them into their testimony. Other witnesses have also said another man on the scene was the one with the gun.
All of this information and the two decades since the incident only heightened the tension leading to the execution. Many celebrities, innocence groups and world leaders called for Davis’ death penalty sentence to be commuted. The final Supreme Court petition was denied, however, and Davis was executed.
Source: USA Today “First-person accounts add layers to Troy Davis Debate,” 9/25/2011