Less than two hours before Troy Davis was to be put to death, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of execution. This is the second time Davis’s life was spared in the last minute; in July of 2007 the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles postponed his execution less than 24 hours before it was supposed to happen. One wonders what this does to a human being; to know exactly when we’ll die is information few of us have to learn to live with. The scenario may very well be repeated again; the Supreme Court justices will decide whether they will hear Davis’s appeal of the Georgia Supreme Court ruling or not. If they decide not to hear his appeal, it’s the end of the stay, and a new date for his execution will be set…
In a 4-3 decision, the Georgia Supreme Court had ruled in March that the verdict of the original jury could not be disregarded, although seven of the nine witnesses who had incriminated Davis at the trial had since then recanted their testimony. Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears voiced a strong opposition: “If recantation testimony, either alone or supported by other evidence, shows convincingly that prior trial testimony was false, it simply defies all logic and morality to hold that it must be disregarded categorically,” she wrote.
Ordinarily, we live our lives as if we were immortal. Unless we’re seriously ill, we get up in the morning, follow our routines, and go to sleep at night, rarely if at all thinking of the fact that we could die at every moment, every second, of these 24 hours. What does it do to know this will be your last birthday, the last summer, the last morning? How do you prepare yourself for the last hours of your life, not once, but twice, maybe three times?
The temporary stay caused new hope and relief, and many of Troy’s family, friends, and supporters from all over the world couldn’t help tears of joy. If the high court agrees to hear his case, there’s a good chance that Troy Davis can prove his innocence.