This article was presented today on Savannah/Hilton Head television station, WSAV
August 17, 2009
SAVANNAH, Ga.-The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that condemned murderer Troy Anthony Davis should get another chance to prove he is innocent before the state executes him.
The court said an evidentiary hearing should be held to determine if Davis is not guilty of the murder of Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail.
Davis was convicted for the 1989 death of Officer MacPhail, but in recent years seven out of nine eye witnesses, who named Davis as the shooter, have recanted their testimony.
Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the opinion for the majority, with Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg concurring. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented. It is unclear how Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Anthony Kennedy, and Justice Samuel Alito voted or if any of them abstained.
The court's order came just two days before the 19th anniversary of the murder. The hearing will be held in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Georgia.
Monday was an emotional day for the families of Davis and MacPhail.
Virginia Davis says the ruling was a relief. "That's what we have wanted all along, just to have another hearing" so Troy would have his fair day in court and all the evidence can be presented and stuff and they weigh all the evidence," said Davis Monday.
But Anneliese MacPhail called it "unreal."
"Supposedly, there's no evidence. Well, we've been though that for 18 years. There is no new evidence. They better pay attention to the evidence, which is very conveniently being put under the rug," Anneliese MacPhail told WSAV sister station WRBL in Columbus.
"This has been a roller coaster ride, not just for our family, but I understand for the MacPhail family, and it's not family against family. It never has been. It's just always been about" We need to find the truth in what's happening in this case," said Davis's sister, Martina Correria.
"The truth is that it was not just witness testimony, that there was physical evidence. There was no police coercion. I've talked to the officers personally, and they handled them with kid gloves" Officers dotted their i's and crossed their t's," said MacPhail's son Mark.
On Monday, Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm made a brief statement about the case, but a spokeswoman said Chisolm is very limited in what he can say, because, depending on the outcome of the hearing in federal court, the case could come back to Savannah for a new trial.
Chisolm said the ruling was not a shock. "I thought the court would look at it very seriously. I thought that they would either have oral argument or some other proceeding to really take a good look at this case," he said.
He also warned it will be some time before this case will be resolved.