Judge denies Troy Davis's innocence claim

Troy Davis
Troy Davis
Mark MacPhail
Mark MacPhail

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A federal judge denies Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis's innocence claim after rare two-day evidentiary hearing.

Davis was sentenced to death in 1991 for the 1989 murder of Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail.

"The court concludes that executing an innocent person would violate the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. However, Mr. Davis is not innocent," U.S. District Court Judge William Moore Jr. wrote in his ruling. "The evidence produced at the hearing on the merits of Mr. Davis's claim of actual innocence and a complete review of the record in this case does not require the reversal of the jury's judgment." [Click here to read the judge's conclusion]

Davis's sister Martina Correia told WTOC that she was not surprised by the ruling.

Correia said Davis's lawyers will be having a conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss what routes they will take. She said there are still appeals they can make to make sure Davis's execution is not permanent. She said appeals are not out of the question.

MacPhail's son, Mark MacPhail Jr., said his family is very happy about the decision and they never had any doubts about who killed their father.

At the evidentiary hearing in June, the defense team tried to show ineffectiveness of original legal council in the trial. They also presented new testimony that they say proves Davis's innocence.

Davis's defense team tried making an issue out of the questioning of Larry Young -- the homeless man who was crying for help while being beaten who MacPhail was trying to help when he was shot -- after the shooting.

Robert Fallagend, Davis's original attorney, testified about taking on the case. He testified that he was approached by Davis's mother. He said he felt all three photographs should have been shown to witnesses for a lineup, but that only Davis's picture was shown.

Davis's defense attorneys said Coles, Davis and Daryl "D.D." Collins all should have been shown in a lineup.

Young was being harassed by Coles over the beer he was carrying, according to court documents. Witnesses testified at the time that Davis was also harassing Young and that he began to pistol whip him.

Coles said he was at the pool hall and got into an argument with Young and that Collins and Davis were there, according to court documents.

The defense team tried to show ineffectiveness of original legal council in the trial.

The prosecution argued in the hearing that:

  • People pinpointed Davis as the shooter.
  • Witnesses' recanting testimony is unreliable and defense did not meet the standards of proving Davis's innocence.
  • The defense team had witnesses they could have taken the stand, but they didn't call them to the stand just read their statements.

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Copyright 2010 WTOC. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.