- Ruben Cantu was executed in Texas in 1993. The eyewitness and co-defendant whose testimony was crucial to putting Cantu on death row have since recanted.(17) In a development that is reminiscent of the Troy Davis case (see below), the lone eyewitness has said that he felt pressured by police into identifying Ruben Cantu as the murderer.
- Larry Griffin was executed in Missouri in 1995. An investigation by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund has cast serious doubt on the credibility of the state’s key witness.(18)
- Gary Graham was executed in Texas in 2000 primarily on the testimony of a single eyewitness. Other eyewitnesses, not interviewed by the defence lawyer, said that Graham was not the perpetrator.(19)
- Angel Nieves Diaz was executed in Florida in 2006 despite the fact that a key prosecution witness – a jailhouse informant – had recanted his trial testimony implicating Diaz. Angel Diaz maintained his innocence in his final statement before being killed in a botched execution.
Amnesty International has little doubt that sooner or later it will be shown that the USA has executed at least one person since 1976 for a crime he or she did not commit. Such cases are, of course, hard to prove, especially before abolition. The state will tend to resist attempts to uncover the execution of an innocent person, and in any event, once a person has been put to death, the scarce resources of the legal and abolitionist communities will generally be directed toward trying to stop future executions.(20) One such looming execution is that of Troy Davis.
Deadly mix: over-zealous police & death-qualified jury?