Thu., June 25, 2009 4:31pm (EDT)

U.S. High Court Set to Decide on Davis Death Case
By Valarie Edwards
Updated: 5 years ago

ATLANTA  —  
Unidentified protestor attends rally for Troy Anthony Davis (photo by V. Edwards)
Unidentified protestor attends rally for Troy Anthony Davis (photo by V. Edwards)
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to consider whether it will hear the case of Georgia death row inmate Troy Anthony Davis. Davis was convicted of the 1989 murder of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark McPhail.

What Davis’ lawyers are waiting to learn is whether the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on his request for a writ of habeas corpus.

The phrase is Latin for “present the body.” It’s a lawsuit against a prison warden demanding that he prove a prisoner is not being held in violation of his constitutional rights.

If the court will hear the habeas arguments, Davis cannot be executed pending the outcome of the hearing.

Davis’ execution has been delayed three times over concerns that another man is the real killer. Seven of the nine witnesses who testified in the original case have recanted their testimony. Some say they were threatened by local police.

However, earlier this year the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cleared the way for Davis’ execution, saying it was "unpersuaded" by the affidavits.

The U.S. Supreme Court could decide whether it will hear the case as early as this week or carry it into the next term which begins in October. If the court refuses to hear the habeas arguments, the ruling of 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stands.