Help Save Troy Davis!

Troy Davis has spent the past 19 years in prison for the 1989 murder of a Savannah, Ga. police officer.  Last year, Davis came within 23 hours of lethal injection before the Georgia state board of pardons and paroles issued a temporary stay of execution.  Even with the support of Amnesty International, Pope Benedict the 16th, and conservative politicians like Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr, Troy Davis will die, possibly at the end of this month.

At the heart of this story lies a string of witness recantations.  Some witnesses report that they were threatened with long prison terms if they didn’t tell the story the prosecution’s way.

Please read the elegant feature article Michelle Garcia wrote for Amnesty International’s magazine.  Since Ms. Garcia’s piece was published, the Georgia Board denied the request Davis filed for a new trial.  This means Troy Davis will die by lethal injection on September 23rd unless the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case.  Their decision is almost completely dependant on the volume of the public outcry.

Please read the brief summary of the primary issues pasted below, then read Ms. Garcia’s article for greater depth.  I have written about the guessing game that aflicts our justice system when prosecutor’s shape the facts to fit their preconceived narrative.  The Troy Davis story offers the perfect illustration of how it works.  The legal system assumes that once a person has been tried and convicted they should be presumed guilty unless they can prove innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.  In other words, Troy Davis will die even though any objective observer, having considered the basic facts, would have grave doubts about his guilt.

Please take action at the Amnesty International Site.

A Brief Background to the Troy Davis case

Restrictions on Federal appeals have prevented Troy Anthony Davis from having a hearing in federal court on the reliability of the witness testimony used against him, despite the fact that most of the witnesses have since recanted, many alleging they were pressured or coerced by police. Troy Davis remains on Georgia death row, and may be scheduled for execution in the near future.

Troy Davis was sentenced to death for the murder of Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail at a Burger King in Savannah, Georgia; a murder he maintains he did not commit. There was no physical evidence against him and the weapon used in the crime was never found. The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, all but two of the state’s non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony. Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.

One of the two witnesses who has not recanted his testimony is Sylvester “Red” Coles – the principle alternative suspect, according to the defense, against whom there is new evidence implicating him as the gunman. Nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, preached in Troy Davis’ home town of Savannah, Ga. and a statue in his honor dominates one of the many squares for which the old city is famous.  The quotation below was inspired by the futility of war, but it could just as easily be applied to the death penalty.

Here are forty thousand men gathered together on this plain. What they going to do? See, there are thirty or forty thousand more at a great distance. And these are going to shoot them through the head or body, to stab them, or split their skulls, and send most of their souls into everlasting fire, as fast as they possibly can. Why so? What harm have they done to them? O, none at all! They do not so much as know them. But a man, who is king of France has a quarrel with another man, who is king of England. So these Frenchmen are to kill as many of these Englishmen as they can, to prove the king of France is in the right. Now, what an argument is this? What a method of proof? What an amazing way of deciding controversies! What must mankind be, before such a thing as war could ever be known or thought of upon earth? How shocking, how inconceivable a want must there have been of common understanding, as well as common humanity, before any two governors, or any two nations in the universe could once think of such a method of decision! If then, all nations, Pagan, Mohammedan, and Christian, do, in fact, make this their last resort, what farther proof of do we need of the utter degeneracy of all nations from the plainest principles of reason and virtue? Of the absolute want, both of common sense and common humanity, which runs through the whole race of mankind?

Works (Jackson) 9:221 The Doctrine of Original Sin (part 1)

4 thoughts on “Help Save Troy Davis!

  1. Thanks as always for great work, great reporting, great intentions.

    I am super busy right now, and like most Americans, want things to be simple and convenient.
    I clicked on “help” and I don’t see what actions are suggested and this is a serious issue.

    If we are to make a difference, and your objective is to be achieved, you need to, or someone
    needs to give us a clear way to do so. Please consider enrolling some support in creating an action page with a couple or a few simple actions spelled out clearly, simply, and completely.

    That way those of us couch potatoes and not just activists can participate at our level,
    in order to accomplish your wonderful intentions.

  2. Good point, Marc. The problem is that, until the Ga. Board of Pardons and Paroles denied Troy’s request for a new trial, all the action suggestions were directed toward that board. Now we are dealing with the Supreme Court. I’ll see if I can get back to you with a good answer.

  3. I am deeply shocked by the Board’s decision, reversing its own decision of a few yaers ago to not send someone to their death if there is no sufficient proof.

    In Troy Davis case, one would say that ther is reasonable evidence he is innocent, and not the opposite.

    What can be done between now and September 22nd to make sure that another innocent man isn’t executed? What is Martina Correia planning to do, and how can we support her?

    PLease, send me an email if you know what I, from Canada, can do to help.


  4. Thanks Alan for posting this. And thanks for the quote from John Wesley. Using the powers of the state to send people into everlasting fire, whether through war or through capital punishment, does defy human reason.

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