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September 21, 2011

Ann Coulter: Troy Davis Is Guilty As Hell (And, Oh Yeah, The Media Is Lying To You)

One of the questions in these cases is "What is reasonable doubt?"

If reasonable doubt is taken to mean "any doubt," then really any kind of legal filing would suffice to create "any doubt."

Allah quotes a former Reagan FBI director, William Sessions, making the case that there's enough doubt here to halt the execution.

One problem with his claims is this: He seems to get very vague as to the facts. He wants us to know that there have been "recantations," but is not eager to share with us the nature of those recantations.

I find Ann Coulter more detailed, even in a brief column, and between someone who wants to keep things vague and someone who wants to get specific -- well, I usually credit the person who's unafraid of the little details as probably being on to something.

Sessions also says something I don't believe, having read Coulter. Here's Sessions' claim on the recantations:

Some of these same witnesses also had testified at Davis’ trial but have since recanted their trial testimony. The judge at the evidentiary hearing found their recantations to be unreliable and, therefore, found Davis was unable to “clearly establish” his innocence. The problem is that the testimony of these same witnesses, whom the judge had determined were less believable, had been essential to the original conviction and death sentence.

Is that true? Were there only a couple of eyewitnesses, the lynchpin of the prosecutors' case, and, given they've now recanted, leave us with no credible accusers on the record against Davis?

According to Coulter, this does not appear true at all.

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."

Edited: I excerpted too much on the first draft. Click on the Coulter link for the rest.

Does Sessions think a significant doubt about Davis' guilt has been raised? Not to hear him tell it:

However, when it comes to the sentence of death, there should be no room for doubt.

"No room for doubt" is the standard pleaded for when there is, at most, only the sketchiest, most implausible doubt that can be raised.

If "no room for doubt" is the standard, no one could be executed, ever. In fact, no one could be convicted, period.

BTW, there was physical evidence, according to Coulter, in the form of cartridges recovered at the scene which matched cartridges from Davis' gun. Not the most conclusive of evidence, but one of those "gee, I guess he's just getting reeeeally unlucky with these coincidences" sorts of deals.

That one "recantation" is damning by what it doesn't say. As Troy Davis is about to be executed for murder, one of his acquaintances, merely says he can't be positive that he his friend shoot a man, from a sighting distance of five feet away?

That's pretty much just saying "I don't want to be responsible for his death, but I'm not going out on a limb for him, either." Guy can't even definitely say his old friend didn't do it. He's just no longer sure.

The execution is currently delayed as the US Supreme Court considers a stay.

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posted by Ace at 08:56 PM

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