It's true that the bulk of the evidence against Davis was eyewitness testimony. That tends to happen when you shoot someone in a busy Burger King parking lot.
Eyewitness testimony, like all evidence tending to show guilt, has gotten a bad name recently, but the "eyewitness" testimony in this case did not consist simply of strangers trying to distinguish one tall black man from another. For one thing, several of the eyewitnesses knew Davis personally.
The bulk of the eyewitness testimony established the following:
Two tall, young black men were harassing a vagrant in the Burger King parking lot, one in a yellow shirt and the other in a white Batman shirt. The one in the white shirt used a brown revolver to pistol-whip the vagrant. When a cop yelled at them to stop, the man in the white shirt ran, then wheeled around and shot the cop, walked over to his body and shot him again, smiling.
Some eyewitnesses described the shooter as wearing a white shirt, some said it was a white shirt with writing, and some identified it specifically as a white Batman shirt. Not one witness said the man in the yellow shirt pistol-whipped the vagrant or shot the cop.
Several of Davis' friends testified -- without recantation -- that he was the one in a white shirt. Several eyewitnesses, both acquaintances and strangers, specifically identified Davis as the one who shot Officer MacPhail.
Now the media claim that seven of the nine witnesses against Davis at trial have recanted.
First of all, the state presented 34 witnesses against Davis -- not nine -- which should give you some idea of how punctilious the media are about their facts in death penalty cases.
Among the witnesses who did not recant a word of their testimony against Davis were three members of the Air Force, who saw the shooting from their van in the Burger King drive-in lane. The airman who saw events clearly enough to positively identify Davis as the shooter explained on cross-examination, "You don't forget someone that stands over and shoots someone."
Recanted testimony is the least believable evidence since it proves only that defense lawyers managed to pressure some witnesses to alter their testimony, conveniently after the trial has ended. Even criminal lobbyist Justice William Brennan ridiculed post-trial recantations.
Three recantations were from friends of Davis, making minor or completely unbelievable modifications to their trial testimony. For example, one said he was no longer sure he saw Davis shoot the cop, even though he was five feet away at the time. His remaining testimony still implicated Davis.
One alleged recantation, from the vagrant's girlfriend (since deceased), wasn't a recantation at all, but rather reiterated all relevant parts of her trial testimony, which included a direct identification of Davis as the shooter.
Only two of the seven alleged "recantations" (out of 34 witnesses) actually recanted anything of value -- and those two affidavits were discounted by the court because Davis refused to allow the affiants to testify at the post-trial evidentiary hearing, even though one was seated right outside the courtroom, waiting to appear.
The court specifically warned Davis that his refusal to call his only two genuinely recanting witnesses would make their affidavits worthless. But Davis still refused to call them -- suggesting, as the court said, that their lawyer-drafted affidavits would not have held up under cross-examination.
With death penalty opponents so fixated on Davis' race -- he's black -- it ought to be noted that all the above witnesses are themselves African-American. The first man Davis shot in the car that night was African-American.
I notice that the people so anxious to return this sociopathic cop-killer to the street don't live in his neighborhood.
There's a reason more than a dozen courts have looked at Davis' case and refused to overturn his death sentence. He is as innocent as every other executed man since at least 1950, which is to say, guilty as hell.
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