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US Supreme Court stays execution of Georgia death row inmate

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Tuesday stayed the execution [order, PDF] of Georgia death row inmate Troy Anthony Davis "pending the disposition of the petition for a writ of certiorari." Davis had been scheduled to be executed [AG news release] at 7 PM EDT on Tuesday. According to his lawyers, key witnesses who claimed they saw Davis kill an off-duty police officer in 1989 have recanted their testimony and others say another person has since confessed to the killing. A stay will terminate automatically if Davis's petition for certiorari is denied. The US Supreme Court had previously denied a petition for certiorari in the case, and the Georgia Supreme Court [official website] in March denied [court docket; opinion summary] Davis's request for a new trial. AP has more. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has local coverage.

Davis would have been the third prisoner in Georgia to be executed since September 2007, after resuming executions in May following an effective moratorium [JURIST reports] on the death penalty in the United States as many federal courts, state courts, and state governors put executions on hold pending the US Supreme Court's ruling in Baze v. Rees [Duke Law case backgrounder; JURIST report], which allowed the Court to consider whether the three-drug lethal injection "cocktail" [DPIC backgrounder] used in most states violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The Court upheld the procedure [opinion, PDF] in April. Several other US states have since resumed executions by lethal injection, including Texas [JURIST report], Virginia [Times-Dispatch report], Mississippi, and Florida, which on Tuesday executed Richard "Ric Ric" Henyard [AP reports] by lethal injection.

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