Professor Lisa McElroy was interviewed Sept. 19 on Southern California NPR affiliate KPCC concerning the pending executions of two men whose murder trial and sentencing hearing sparked intense controversy.
On Sept. 21, authorities in Georgia plan to execute Troy Davis, a black man who was convicted of killing a white police officer. The planned execution has generated widespread protest, McElroy said, noting that numerous witnesses have recanted testimony they gave at Davis’ trial and others identified a different killer.
Questions about Davis’ guilt have prompted the execution to be stayed three times, yet a Georgia judge ruled that the new evidence does not meet the very high legal standard for overturning a conviction, McElroy said.
“This looks like it might be the end of the road for Mr. Davis,” McElroy said, adding that the five-member Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole will decide if he lives or dies.
Guest host David Lazarus also asked McElroy about the looming execution in Texas of Duane Buck, who admits to killing his former girlfriend and another man but contends the sentencing hearing violated his constitutional rights.
A psychologist testifying during the sentencing hearing claimed that black men are more likely to commit further violence than whites, leading Buck to protest that the death sentence he received violated his rights under the constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, McElroy said.
Death row inmates face an uphill climb, McElroy said, since prosecutors have greater resources and expertise than the attorneys who represented them and because the legal system is extremely difficult to navigate, once a capital sentence is imposed.