Posted: September 26th, 2011 | By: Tom Breen
RALEIGH (AP) — Fifteen hours after Troy Davis was executed, two men walked out of a North Carolina prison after being exonerated of a murder they had pleaded guilty to committing more than 10 years ago.N.C.
The difference, legal experts and observers say, is largely explained by a one-of-a-kind system for examining innocence claims that the state launched in 2005. That process is what freed Robert Wilcoxson and Kenneth Kagonyera from a lockup in Asheville.
“If Georgia had the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, I believe Troy Davis today would be free instead of dead,” said Mark Rabil, a defense lawyer and co-director of the Innocence and Justice Clinic at the Wake Forest University School of Law.
Prosecutors, though, say that wrongful convictions are rare and that they work carefully to make sure innocent people never are charged in the first place.
Davis was executed Wednesday for the 1989 murder of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail. Defense attorneys said several key witnesses disputed their testimony and other people claimed that another man confessed to the crime, but state and federal courts repeatedly upheld the conviction. His case garnered worldwide attention, with celebrities, the pope and former President Jimmy Carter among his supporters.
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