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Georgia's dysfunctional death penalty

Troy Davis' execution was the fifth scheduled this year. Each raises hard questions about the death penalty.

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The state set Davis' execution for Sept. 23. His attorneys were confident that the Pardons and Paroles Board would do for Davis as it had done for Crowe. But four days before the execution, the board – which had heard from five of the recanting witnesses, as well as others who said Coles confessed to the crime – surprised Davis' supporters. It denied clemency.

On the afternoon of his execution date, Davis said goodbye to his family and readied himself for the death chamber. Less than two hours before he was scheduled to die, he was watching TV. He learned that the U.S. Supreme Court had issued a stay. The high court wanted time to decide whether to hear Davis' case.

"The argument we've made is that it's unconstitutional to execute an innocent man," says Davis' D.C.-based attorney, Jason Ewart. "It's an issue that the Supreme Court has looked at before, but has never definitively decided. This provides a good case for that."

On Oct. 6, the justices were expected to announce whether they'd hear the case. Instead, a special session was scheduled for Oct. 10 – a sign that the justices needed more time.

If the U.S. Supreme Court opts not to hear Davis' case, he will again be scheduled for execution. And there will be little hope left for an intervention.

UPDATE: On Oct. 13, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down Davis' appeal. Two days later, the state scheduled his execution for Oct. 27. 

MORE INFO: Check out our multi-media Troy Davis page for updates on the case, excerpts from the affidavits of trial witnesses who recanted their testimony, and slideshows and video of the grassroots movement to bring awareness to the case. 

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