Troy was sentenced to death for the 1991 killing of Mark McPhail, a police officer in Savannah, Georgia. We have posted before that the State of Georgia should not kill Troy Davis because there was no physical evidence tying him to the crime and seven out of nine witnesses have recanted or contradicted their testimony.
The high court ordered a federal judge in Georgia to determine whether there is evidence "that could not have been obtained at the time of trial (that) clearly establishes petitioner's innocence."
"The substantial risk of putting an innocent man to death clearly provides an adequate justification for holding an evidentiary hearing," said Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the court. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer concurred with Stevens.Davis' attorneys have delayed his execution three times by raising doubts about those witnesses. But state and federal courts have denied Davis' request for a new trial, and Georgia officials have repeatedly rejected calls for clemency.
The case has attracted worldwide attention, with calls to stop Davis' execution from former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Desmond Tutu.
Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented from the decision to order an evidentiary hearing.
Scalia said, "every judicial and executive body that has examined petitioner's claim has been unpersuaded ... Davis' claim is a sure loser ... transferring his petition to the District Court is a confusing exercise that can serve no purpose except to delay the state's execution of its lawful criminal judgment."Davis' family said the ruling gives them hope that he could be exonerated.
"I'm always optimistic," said his sister Martina Correia, who has traveled around the world advocating for his case. "This means he gets another chance. And we're going to keep fighting for that chance."State officials welcomed the ruling.
"Hopefully, this hearing will resolve the doubts about the verdict handed down by the Chatham County jury 18 years ago," Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker said in a statement.Villager's Voice: Today is a good day! The Supreme Court is finally going to give Troy a chance to present this evidence and prove his innocence! That's a victory for Troy and his family — and for all villagers.