By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published July 19, 2007
The execution of Troy Davis has been postponed for 90 days to give the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles more time to hear his case.
The decision was made July 16, less than 24 hours before his scheduled execution.
Davis, who was convicted in 1991 of shooting a Savannah police officer working an off-duty job, became the center of a worldwide effort by death penalty opponents to spare his life. Activists delivered some 4,000 letters to the state board. Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory was among the dignitaries to ask state officials to review the case.
Jim Powers, the jail and prison ministry coordinator for Catholic Charities Atlanta, said the delay is a positive step so the board can hear more evidence.
The state officials want to avoid an “irreversible wrong” by executing a man when there are many questions about his guilt, said Powers.
The board said its members were postponing the execution to allow those representing Davis to present witnesses and other evidence supporting their contention that there is doubt as to his guilt.
Their order said the board will not allow an execution to proceed “unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused.”
Davis still faces death by lethal injection unless the board commutes his sentence to life imprisonment, with or without a chance of parole. The board could also pardon him.
Davis claims he is innocent of the charge. Seven of the nine witnesses that testified against him at his trial have since recanted and said police coerced their testimony.