Cutting it close

Troy Anthony Davis was scheduled to be executed yesterday at 7:00 PM Eastern Time, in Jackson, Georgia, USA. Shortly after 5:00 PM, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a reprieve to Davis.

Davis had been convicted for the 1989 murder of an off-duty police officer, Mark MacPhail, who was shot while trying to break up a fight in a Burger King parking lot.

There was no physical evidence presented at Davis’ trial, but nine people claimed they saw Davis shoot MacPhail. Since that time, seven of those people have recanted their testimony, saying they were either coerced by police, by the man who really shot MacPhail, or were simply mistaken.

Davis has also received a lot of celebrity support, including pleas from actors Susan Sarandon and Harry Belafonte, former President Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pope Benedict XVI, and even U.S. lawmakers, all of whom have petitioned Georgia to grant Davis a new trial.

MacPhail’s family is understandably upset with the stay of execution, since they believe Davis is guilty. As always, the question is, what if he’s innocent? How sure should we have to be before putting a man to death?