ATLANTA, GA--Should convicted killer Troy Davis get a new trial? The decision now lies in the hands of the Georgia Supreme Court.
Today, five justices listened to the defense and the prosecution. Does new evidence and multiple witness recantations warrant a new trial? Both sides presented their arguments. Now, the wait is on.
Waiting is nothing new for the two families involved. The family of Mark MacPhail, the Savannah police officer a jury convicted Davis of killing back in 1989, has been waiting for justice and Davis's death sentence to be served. Troy Davis's family has been trying to save their loved one's life.
The Georgia Supreme Court has three to six months to go over today's hearing and paperwork. Those deliberations are the result of what turned out to be a brief appeal hearing.
18 years comes down to 40 minutes for all involved. "It is scary to have only 20 to 30 minutes to argue for someone's life," Martina Correia, Davis's sister, told WTOC.
"This isn't just a case of mistaken identity. It's a case of reasonable doubt," defense attorney Jason Ewart told the court.
Ewart had the job of convincing the Supreme Court Troy Davis deserves a new trial. He told justices there has been no other case in Georgia like the Troy Davis case, where so many witnesses have recanted their testimony years after apparently lying under oath.
"Recantations do matter if they undermine the confidence in the verdict," he said.
"For months we have been subject to a drum beat of one sided ideology masquerading as expertise in Georgia's law," Chatham County district attorney Spencer Lawton told the court room.
Lawton and assistant DA David Locke attacked the defense's use of the media and questioned the credibility of the witness recantations. They stand by the 1991 verdict and Troy Davis's death sentence, and called out groups like Amnesty International and other organizations they think have clouded the case.
"This not so helpful advocacy and might even say pressure, has ranged all the way from the Vatican through Amnesty International and of all places, the editorial room at the Atlanta Journal and Constitution," Lawton said.
Lawton says they may have lost the media battle, but maintained, justice was served.
"Left to them collectively, a man convicted by a jury for murdering a police man would go free, a jury would be trivialized, and an innocent man would be condemned on far less evidence than convicted Troy Davis," Lawton said.
While the Supreme Court weighs both arguments, Correia thinks she has good news for her brother.
"I think I can tell him that somebody is listening and that's all we ever wanted was someone to listen," she said.
A couple of other important notes about today's hearing. First, there are seven Supreme Court justices, but only five were present to hear the appeal. They listened to 40 minutes of arguments, but they also have a lot of paperwork to go over these next few months before they make a decision.
Members of both Troy Davis's family and Mark MacPhail's family and friends were in court today for the appeal hearing.