Troy Davis' death has brought to light a number of questions about the death penalty appeals process.
Just an hour prior to his Wednesday execution, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a temporary stay of execution. Three hours later, it officially denied the stay, allowing the injection procedure to go forward.
Why did the high court first grant, then deny a stay?
Just prior to his execution, Troy Davis' attorney had requested that both a federal court and the Georgia Supreme Court consider new evidence. That evidence challenged testimony linking shell casings to a prior shooting involving Davis, reports the Associated Press.
Because both courts denied the request, the U.S. Supreme Court was Davis' last hope. However, the Court hears cases on a discretionary basis.
When the Court initially halted Troy Davis' death, it was taking the time to decide whether to grant a further stay of execution. Such a decision would have given the Court a few months to fully hear his appeal.
However, a stay of execution and appeal are typically only granted when there is new evidence of innocence or proof of a significant constitutional failure.
During Wednesday's delay, the Court considered the new ballistics evidence. That evidence was either not sufficiently persuasive, or did not prove Davis' innocence, as the stay was eventually denied.
The outcome of Troy Davis' death penalty case is actually quite typical. Though the Supreme Court has granted two other inmates stays of execution in the last week, such requests are almost always denied.
- Troy Davis, from gurney, proclaims innocence before execution (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- The Appeal, Writ and Habeas Corpus Petition Process (FindLaw)
- Troy Davis Clemency Denied: What is Clemency? (FindLaw Blotter)