Although I support the death penalty for criminals who are guilty of murder, I respect those who respectfully disagree. However, I’m often irked by the unsupportable claims made by opponents of capital punishment who allow themselves to be willing duped in order to support their position.
A prime example was the claims made that convicted cop killer Troy Davis was an innocent man. Despite what many pundits and bloggers have claimed, his guilt should not be in doubt. As the Washington Post ‘s Charles Lane explains , “Troy Davis is guilty.”
Davis appeals, state and federal, failed until August 2009, when the Supreme Court handed him a dramatic victory. Citing a substantial risk of putting an innocent man to death, the court overrode usual limits on death-penalty appeals, granted a stay of execution and ordered a federal court in Georgia to weigh Davis evidence of innocence.
Chief Judge William T. Moore of the U.S. District Court in Savannah, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, convened the hearing in June 2010 — whereupon Davis case crumbled. Much of his new evidence had already been heard by the original trial jury. Some of his witnesses fared badly on cross-examination, while prosecution testimony stood up.
Davis lawyers declined to put two of Davis purported recanting witnesses on the stand, though they were available one even waited outside the courtroom. Judge Moore quite logically found these omissions suspicious.
Davis lawyers did not call the real shooter; nor did Davis, with his life on the line, testify. Perhaps this reflected his experience at trial, where he told his story to the jury, and the jury did not believe it.
In August 2010, Moore issued a 174-page ruling , in which he picked apart Davis factual claims one by one, concluding, The vast majority of the evidence at trial remains intact.
The guilt of Davis does not undermine the arguments against capital punishment, but this case should lead opponents to be cautious before making the slanderous claims about an “innocent man” being put to death by the state.