Innocence Network and Innocence Project Urge Georgia Board to Reconsider Decision and DA to lift execution warrant

(ATLANTA, GA;  September 20, 2011) Today the Innocence Network and the Innocence Project submitted a letter to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles urging the board to reconsider its decision denying clemency to Troy Davis who is scheduled to be executed tomorrow.  The letter urges the Board to stay Davis’ execution so that it can hear from a scientist and eyewitness identification expert who had hoped to testify before the Board on Monday about the many problems with the identifications procedures used in Davis’ case. The Network and the Project sent a separate letter to Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisom, urging the District Attorney to withdraw the execution warrant against Davis.

“The identification procedures used to convict Davis would never pass muster today.  In their haste to build a case against Davis, the police did just about everything that has now been scientifically proven to be wrong, even allowing the witnesses to talk among themselves about the identity of the shooter.  And one of those people who identified Troy is now considered a likely suspect in the murder,” said Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, which is one of the 66 members of the Innocence Network that has exonerated more than 300 wrongfully convicted individuals.  “For the sake of the integrity of the criminal justice system, we sincerely hope that the Board of Pardons and Paroles will stay Troy’s execution at least long enough to hear from an expert on memory and identification who can explain the many reasons why Davis may have been misidentified.”

Davis has always maintained his innocence of the 1989 murder of a Savannah Police Officer.  Since his original trial, a lot of evidence has come to light pointing to Davis’ innocence.  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.  The other could not have possibly have made a positive identification of Davis from over 120 feet, where she claimed to have seen him that night.   Misidentification was a factor in 75% of the 273 DNA exonerations.  In 38% of these mistaken identification cases, multiple eyewitnesses misidentified the same person.

Many groups and prominent people have supported Davis’ plea for clemency including former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI and 51 members of Congress.  Nearly a million people have signed petitions in his support.   Davis’s execution is scheduled for Wednesday, September 21, at 7 PM EDT.

The Innocence Network is an affiliation of organizations dedicated to providing pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted and working to redress the causes of wrongful convictions.  The Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice. To date, 273people nationwide have been exonerated through DNA testing and dozens of states have implemented critical reforms to prevent wrongful convictions.

Paul Cates
Director of Communications Innocence Project, Inc.
40 Worth Street; Ste. 701
New York, New York 10013