Troy Anthony Davis is currently on death row in Georgia, for a 1991 murder conviction based exclusively on eyewitness testimony. There is no physical evidence connecting Mr. Davis to the crime. Since the trial, all but two of the government’s non-police witnesses have recanted their testimony incriminating Mr. Davis, many citing police coercion in sworn affidavits, (PDF) including threats of charges against the witnesses themselves if they refused to implicate Mr. Davis in sworn statements. No murder weapon was ever found.
In the words of one “witness” whose testimony was relied upon at trial:
“I kept telling them that I didn’t know. It was dark, my windows were tinted, and I was scared. It all happened so fast. Even today, I know that I could not honestly identify with any certainty who shot the officer that night.”
“After the officers talked to me, they gave me a statement and told me to sign it. I signed it. I did not read it because I cannot read.”
“I nodded and repeated what they said, whether it was true or not…. I am not proud for lying at Troy’s trial, but the police had me so messed up that I felt that’s all I could do or else I would go to jail.”
Summaries of the recanted witness testimony are here. Nine other individuals have issued sworn affidavits implicating another man as the culprit.
Amnesty International has signed on to Mr. Davis’s cause, and has issued a detailed report on his case. AI asks supporters to send letters to the State Board of Pardons and Paroles in Georgia, urging that his death sentence be commuted. All avenues of judicial relief have been exhausted, and Mr. Davis is scheduled for execution on July 17.