WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court cleared the way Tuesday for a Georgia man to be put to death for killing a police officer, two weeks after it halted his execution to consider his appeal.
In a case that attracted involvement by such luminaries as former President Carter and South Africa Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the man, Troy Davis, had asked the high court to intervene in his case and order a new trial because seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted their testimony.
The justices granted Davis, 39, a reprieve on Sept. 23, less than two hours before his scheduled execution. But they declined Tuesday to give his appeal a full-blown hearing.
The court's stay of execution also expired with the appeal's denial, allowing Georgia to set a new date for Davis' execution.
Davis was convicted of killing off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail in 1989. At his trial in 1991, prosecutors said Davis approached McPhail with a "smirk on his face" and shot and killed the 27-year-old officer who was moonlighting as a security guard at a bus station in Savannah.
But seven witnesses who helped put Davis on death row have since recanted their statements. Three other people have said one of the witnesses who testified at Davis' trial later confessed to killing the officer.
Amid the concerns, Georgia's pardons board postponed Davis' execution in July 2007, less than 24 hours before it was to be carried out.
A divided Georgia Supreme Court twice rejected his request for a new trial, and the pardons board turned down his bid for clemency last month after considering the case again.