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Letters to the Editor

Verdict in doubt

October 19, 2008

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To the editor:

This is a follow up to Leonard Pitts' column of Oct. 6, "Death leaves no room for error." These are the facts: Police officer Mark MacPhail was shot in Savannah, Ga., on Aug. 19, 1989. The weapon was not found, and there was no physical evidence tying the accused to the crime, but in 1991 witnesses testified at trial that Troy Davis shot officer MacPhail. Davis was sentenced to die; he now sits on death row awaiting execution.

But these are also the facts: Since the trial, seven of nine non-police witnesses have recanted their testimony. Many of these witnesses have stated that they were coerced or pressured by police. Of the two witnesses who have not recanted, one is the prime alternative suspect and nine people have signed affidavits implicating that individual.

Can Troy Davis get a new trial? The answer appears to be "no" in Georgia, and with the U.S. Supreme Court declining on Oct. 14 to hear his appeal, also "no" in the U.S. Now, Troy Davis may die in spite of strong claims that he is innocent.

The death penalty is final. Whichever side you are on in the death penalty debate, it's clear that if Georgia executes Troy Davis without certainty of his guilt, the state will have not only undermined confidence in its own justice system but will have added to the pain of all involved. Let's pray that Georgia officials do the right thing and stop the execution of Troy Davis.

David Darwin,
Lawrence

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