ATLANTA — Two weeks after it temporarily spared a Georgia inmate from the death penalty, the United States Supreme Court on Tuesday declined the inmate’s appeal, a decision that will probably lead to a quick execution.
The inmate, Troy A. Davis, was convicted in 1991 of murdering Mark Allen MacPhail, a Savannah police officer. The court’s decision, made without comment or explanation, allows Georgia officials to obtain a new death warrant and schedule a new date of execution, probably in the next few days or weeks.
The case has led to an outpouring of support for Mr. Davis, largely because seven of nine witnesses against him have recanted their testimony, with two claiming police pressured them to testify against him. Prosecutors presented no physical evidence and no murder weapon, and three witnesses have said another man admitted to the murder.
World leaders including former President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Pope Benedict XVI have challenged the fairness of his conviction.
“Georgia is willing to risk the credibility of its whole death penalty system in carrying out this one very questionable execution,” said Steven B. Bright, a professor at Yale Law School. “The death penalty should really only be enforced in cases where there is no question about guilt, and that just cannot be said about this case.”
Prosecutors have rejected the claims of the recanting witnesses, and both the Georgia Supreme Court and the state Board of Paroles and Pardons have denied Mr. Davis’s requests for new trials and clemency. Members of the family of the slain police officer expressed relief at the Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday.
“My son will always be missed in our hearts,” said Anneliese MacPhail, the mother of Officer MacPhail. “But at least we can relax now and don’t have to worry about whether justice will be served.”
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