Troy Davis execution fuels eyewitness ID debate

By RUSS BYNUM | September 27, 2011 | 3:10 AM EDT

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Legal experts say Georgia's execution of Troy Davis is putting a prominent face on a long-simmering legal issue over how much weight courts should give eyewitness testimony, particularly in death penalty cases.

Davis was executed last week for the 1989 slaying of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail. The case garnered thousands supporters worldwide because of questions raised about the reliability of eyewitnesses at Davis' trial.

Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center says judges and lawmakers are already making a broader push to change how the legal system treats eyewitnesses.

A recent New Jersey Supreme Court ruling on eyewitness evidence is expected to have influence beyond its state courts. In November, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear its first case dealing with eyewitness issues in 34 years.