Click through to commentary and links to more in depth discussions on the cases. There are more differences than just race here (though, it’s difficult to believe that it didn’t play SOME role). One is that the victim in the Davis case was a cop. A lot of people have pointed out that “remorse” shown in a confession can get you an easier sentence (but are we then giving incentive to innocent people to plead guilty?), despite the fact that Crowe was in fact sentenced to execution after he pleaded guilty (and I’ve seen plenty of psycopaths plead guilty with little to no remorse).
The major facts here are one case had a boat-load of evidence, a guilty plea, and the accused lived. The other had no doubt-free evidence (beyond the later retracted witness statements), and the accused, who had still maintained innocence, was killed. If we’re going to use the death penalty (which I’m against anyway), we should at least be using it in a consistent manner. Which we truly are not.