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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Could one man's execution be another's salvation?

click to enlarge troy-davis-pic.jpg

Tonight's scheduled execution of convicted murderer Samuel David Crowe — which would mark the second Georgia execution in two weeks — could actually be good news for death row inmate Troy Anthony Davis.

Over the past decade, Davis's lawyers have been building a case that their client is innocent. Seven of the nine witnesses whose testimony was used to convict Davis of the 1989 murder of Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail later recanted. Other witnesses have come forward to say that another man confessed to the killing.

Davis narrowly missed an execution date last July. Less than 24 hours before he was to be put to death by lethal injection, he received a last-minute stay.

"With Georgia cranking up the executions again, I think we’re likely to see several more [execution] dates," says Laura Moye, deputy director of the southern regional office of Amnesty International.

Ironically, the more executions that Georgia carries out, the better the chance that Davis's life will be spared, according to death penalty expert (and outspoken opponent) Stephen Bright.

"Nobody wants to admit it, but everything’s a little bit political," says Bright, director of the Southern Center for Human Rights and a lecturer at Yale University. "If there have been some executions recently, it’s more likely, perhaps, that a case will be commuted than if there hasn’t been an execution."

(Photo courtesy of Department of Corrections)

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