Justices mute on Georgia death case

Oct. 6, 2008 at 12:56 PM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court, opening its new term Monday, took no action on an appeal of a death-row inmate who reportedly has a significant claim of innocence.

The court indicated it would hear arguments on the appeal of Troy Anthony Davis' death sentence on Friday, CNN reported.

The justices had issued a stay Sept. 23 just hours before Davis, 39, was to be put to death by lethal injection for the 1989 killing of Savannah, Ga., Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail. Since Davis's 1991 trial, seven key prosecution witnesses recanted testimony about the incident.

Lower courts have ruled there wasn't enough new evidence to say Davis received an unfair trial based on the witness's recanting. But supporters say prosecution witnesses were unreliable.

In other matters, the court granted no new cases. Constitutional issues for which the justices denied review include a non-unanimous jury convicting someone of a crime, jurors' using a Bible during death-penalty deliberations, police searching a passenger's purse during in a validly stopped vehicle and a claim that motorists have a constitutional right to imprint controversial messages on their license plates.

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