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Supreme Court declines case of death-row inmate who became cause célèbre

Georgia death-row inmate Troy Davis had attracted the attention of anti-death penalty advocates worldwide, but the Supreme Court refused to take his case Monday.

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Friends and family of convicted killer Troy Davis and US Rep. John Lewis wait for the hearing to begin in a last-minute pitch to spare convicted cop killer from execution, July 16, 2007, in Atlanta.

John Spink/The Journal & Constitution/AP/File

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The US Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the appeal of Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis, whose loud and persistent claims of innocence attracted the support of death penalty opponents around the world and forced a series of extra hearings to investigate his case.

In the end, court after court rejected his pleas.

On Monday the high court, without comment, dismissed three appeals filed on Mr. Davis’s behalf.

The action opens the way for Georgia authorities to set an execution date.

Davis was convicted and sentenced to die for the 1989 shooting death of off-duty Savannah Police Officer Mark MacPhail. He’s been on death row since 1991.

He has avoided execution dates three times by persuading a new court to examine his case. But the high court’s action on Monday may have brought his appeals to an end.

In 2009, Davis’s lawyers persuading the US Supreme Court to take the highly unusual step of ordering a federal judge to reexamine Davis’s case from top to bottom.

The court took the action after lawyers presented affidavits claiming that seven of nine witnesses at Davis’s trial had recanted their testimony.

After conducting a hearing last summer, the federal judge upheld Davis’ murder conviction. “While Mr. Davis’s new evidence casts some additional, minimal doubt on his conviction, it is largely smoke and mirrors,” US District Judge William Moore wrote in a 174-page order.

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