Troy Davis hearing gets underway

In a federal courtroom in Savannah, Georgia today, a parade of eye-witnesses admitted to perjury.  At the 1991 trial of Troy Davis, witnesses described seeing him shoot police officer Mark Allen MacPhail.  Others testified that Davis had confessed to the killing. 

Why would so many people lie about what they saw and heard back in 1989? 

Intimidation.  Recanting witnesses claim that they were threatened and bribed by investigators desperate to bring a cop-killer to justice.

Prosecutors claim the recantors had criminal records, some of them extensive.  But that’s just the point.  Ex-offenders are infinitely vulnerable to prosecutorial manipulation.  A childhood friend of Mr. Davis says he testified at trial because he was a street hustler and was afraid the police would hang a drug charge on him.

If you have been reading our reports from the trial of Curtis Flowers you will see the similarities.  There have been plenty of witness recantations in the Flowers case and they have moved in both directions.  Two jailhouse snitches testified in trial one that Curtis had admitted killing four people in a Winona, Mississippi furniture store.  They later recanted.  Roy Harris initially backed up Clemmie Flemming’s story about seeing Curtis flee the scene, but later accused Fleming of inventing the story. 

And then there’s Odell Hallmon, the man who testified at trial two that he and his sister Patricia fed investigators a bogus story in hopes of getting a $30,000 reward.  Then Odell got out of jail.  After a week of harassment from an outraged family, Odell told DA Doug Evans that (a) his testimony in trial 2 was a lie and (2) Curtis Flowers had confessed to the killings.

Recanting witnesses must be evaluated with great caution.  A man who lies once will lie again.  I always wonder what compromised witnesses would say if they were free of external influence.  Would a single one of the eye witnesses who say they saw Curtis Flowers on the east side of Winona’s Highway 51 stick to their guns if they had no reason to fear the wrath of a vengeful prosecutor? 

It’s hard to say, but I suspect the testimony of these witnesses would be remarkably different if they weren’t testifying under duress.

The Troy Davis hearing is just getting underway.  We will try to keep you posted.

Witnesses back off testimony against Troy Davis

By Bill Rankin

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

SAVANNAH — Four witnesses who testified against Troy Anthony Davis at his 1991 trial said Wednesday that none of their damaging testimony against him was true.

The witnesses, whose prior testimony helped put Davis on death row for the killing of off-duty Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail, said they were pressured by authorities to point the finger at Davis.

At the 1991 trial, Antoine Williams testified he saw Davis shoot and kill MacPhail late one summer night in 1989 in a Burger King parking lot. But Wednesday, Williams said he was too scared to see who actually fired the weapon.

“I was in my car, ducking and peeking,” Williams, the first witness called by Davis’ lawyers, said. He added that he did not get a good look at the shooting because his car’s windows had three layers of limousine tint on them.

Williams said he testified against Davis at trial because prosecutors told him to identify Davis as the shooter. “I was scared,” he testified.

The testimony came on the first day of an extraordinary hearing ordered last August by the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court instructed a judge to convene a hearing, hear testimony and determine whether Davis’ new claims “clearly establish” his innocence. The hearing is being presided over by U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore Jr., an appointee of President Bill Clinton.

Another witness, Kevin McQueen, testified at trial that Davis told him he shot and killed MacPhail. On Wednesday, he said that never happened.

“There’s no truth to it,” McQueen said. “He never told me nothing like this. … He never confessed to shooting anybody to me.”

When asked by one of Davis’ lawyers, Philip Horton, if he had anything to gain by testifying now in Savannah, McQueen replied, “Peace of mind.”

Jeffrey Sapp, another witness who testified at trial that Davis told him he shot and killed MacPhail, also said that never happened.

Sapp, a childhood friend of Davis’, said irate police told him what to say. He also said that, at the time, he was a “hustler” dealing drugs and feared he would be charged if he did not go along.

“I was so scared I told them anything they wanted to hear,” Sapp said. He added that police told him, “Just say Troy told you. Just say Troy told you.”

Darrell Collins, who was at the scene of the shooting with Davis the night of MacPhail’s murder, also said most of his trial testimony against Davis was untrue.

State attorneys Beth Attaway Burton and Susan Boleyn challenged the new testimony of each witness in cross-examination. They pointed out inconsistencies in their various statements and got McQueen, Sapp and Collins to acknowledge they had prior convictions.

The state attorney general’s office will call a number of police and prosecution witnesses at the close of testimony from witnesses called by Davis’ legal team.

Savannah prosecutors and state attorneys have countered that Davis is a cop killer and that there was more than enough evidence to prove he killed MacPhail beyond a reasonable doubt. State attorneys also note that five separate courts and Georgia’s parole board have rejected Davis’ claims.

But lawyers for Davis, whose execution has been postponed three times, contend that a number of key prosecution witnesses who testified they saw Davis shoot and kill MacPhail have recanted their trial testimony. Others who testified Davis told them he killed MacPhail have also backed off that trial testimony, the witnesses have said in sworn affidavits.

Davis, dressed in a white prison outfit with a blue collar, sat back in his chair at the defense table throughout much of the testimony, sometimes taking notes or reading through court documents. Members of Davis’ family sat on one side of the packed courtroom and members of MacPhail’s family sat on the other side.

Spectators and members of the news media hoping to get one of the 90 available seats for the public began forming a line outside the federal courthouse before 6 a.m. Davis arrived shortly before 7 a.m. accompanied by an armed escort of numerous Chatham County police officers.

18 thoughts on “Troy Davis hearing gets underway

  1. Odell Hallmon passed a lie detector test. He is HIV positive. HE has his own death sentence. He testified that he wanted to get right with God before he died. His remaining time on earth will be spent in Parchman State Prison. It will be hell on earth because he testified against Flowers.

  2. I was told by a juror of this trial that if Curtis Flowers would have shown one bit of remorse or even a facial expression during the sentencing they would have given him life and not death.

  3. Is assure you, if Curtis was guilty he would have shown contrition long ago. Since he is not guilty, he simply accepts his punishment with quiet dignity.

    Alan Bean

  4. People who are HIV positive live for decades. Odell Hallmon knows this, as does Doug Evans. They have been using this sob story for years now and it is growing a bit thin. There are good reasons that polygraph results can’t be used in court; like GSR tests they are voodoo science. As an indicator they have some utility, but they prove nothing. For one thing, they don’t work on psychopaths because they feel no empathy or genuine emotion. Is Odell Hallmon a psychopath? I’m not sure. But he couldn’t have had the chummy relationship with Curtis he claimed on the stand. Curtis, at the time, was a death row prisoner while Odell was in the general population. They could only communicate by shouting from a distance, and Curtis had no power to get Odell cigarettes. This is one of the several hundred details a fresh investigation needs to clear up.

    Alan Bean

  5. Why didn’t Curtis’ defense team bring somebody in from Parchman to prove Hallmon was lying then? His testimony has been the same for the last five trials. It wasn’t like it was a surprise to them. If you could prove what you said I have to believe it would have been brought our in court by now.
    You so callously call Hallmon’s medical condition a “sob story” but I bet you wouldn’t trade places with him. What does he have to gain by testifying against Flowers? Life in the state pen is bad enough, but as Hallmon testified his life is in danger all of the time because he is known as a “snitch.”

  6. http://www.ajr.org/article.asp?id=4454

    American Journalism Review
    An interesting article about the media coverage of the Jena 6 and Mr. Alan Bean’s role there. Seems to parallel his involvement in Winona in the Curtis Flowers case. Seems like many of the facts were misrepresented or slanted. Read the whole article- Mr. Bean is not made out to be the villain or the hero. You can make up your own mind. This is only a part of the story:

    Part of the problem with the coverage, says Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock, is that the national media relied too heavily on Jena According to Alan Bean. In a piece titled “How One Man Fired Up Jena 6 Case,” Whitlock wrote that the media blindly accepted Bean’s story � to the detriment of the truth. Why? Because it was easy, he says.

    “If you’re part of the mainstream media, I think that you see the story as something that should win you a lot of acclaim,” Whitlock says. “The media is so lost right now. In the ’60s, we were very important..and we don’t know how to be important anymore. So if we can hop on some explosive case and appear like we’re championing the right cause and protecting the defenseless or whatever, we will.”

    “He called attention to Jena with his agenda as a point of entry,” Carty, the Town Talk editor, says of Bean. “He was spoon-feeding to the media what the story was all about. His perspective on the story is a partisan perspective; he thinks an injustice has been done, and that’s his starting point, and it’s picked up in the mainstream.”

    Jena Times Assistant Editor Franklin wrote in a column: “First, because local officials did not speak publicly early on about the true events of the past year, the media simply formed their stories based on one side’s statements � the Jena 6. Second, the media were downright lazy in their efforts to find the truth. Often, they simply reported what they’d read on blogs, which expressed only one side of the issue.”

    Bean knew the media would bite. They did in 1999, when he told them about incidents in his hometown of Tulia, Texas. He exposed a corrupt cop and helped overturn more than a dozen drug convictions against minorities. Tulia was quickly labeled a racist town.
    “I knew that it was probably the kind of case the media could be talked into covering because it had so many spectacular features: The fire � something that was terribly significant that nobody was picking up � the nooses and the racial tension. I thought that if the story was framed properly and people could see the connective tissue they could see how one thing led to another,” Bean says.

    While he is critical of the coverage, Whitlock doesn’t cast Bean as the villain. “I’m not saying it’s Bean’s fault � that’s unfair to him. If there’s any bad guys in the Jena 6 story it’s the media. We blew this.”

  7. Good find Sickofthis, can you please summarize this article for us….in one or 3 or 4 sentences?

  8. This is a complex issue and I don’t want to be guilty of putting my interpretation on this article. I just want the reader’s of this blog to be aware that the information they get on this site is presented from the viewpoint of Mr. Bean. Please read the entire article and come to your own conclusion.

  9. sickofthis,
    I think we know this – at least I do. Personally cuz you keep posting that on all the threads here – I got the feeling you weren’t trying to get me to come to my conclusion though – I thought you were trying to get me to come to yours – that Allan is full of shite and that Curtis Flowers is guilty.

    I agree with you though, it is a complex issue – one I would never began to pretend I understand fully.

    Cheers!

  10. How about this:
    In July 2007, William S. Sessions, former FBI Director and federal judge, published an opinion piece in the Atlanta Journal Constitution calling on authorities to halt the execution process until Davis is given a new trial, or alternatively, grant him clemency. Sessions wrote:
    “There is no more serious violent crime than the murder of an off-duty police officer who was putting his life on the line to protect innocent bystanders. That being said, we must be convinced that the right person has been convicted. Serious questions have been raised about Davis’ guilt…It would be intolerable to execute an innocent man.”
    Or this:
    “Many prominent politicians and leaders, including President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Presidential candidate Bob Barr, and former FBI Director and judge William S. Sessions have called upon the courts to grant Davis a new trial or evidentiary hearing.”

    Allan is not alone…..

  11. Their has been many people excuted for crimes that they did not commit, because of liar and investigator has offered money for testimonies that was not true. But read Revelation 21:8. They should not fear what man can do but what our eternal journey will be. I pray that man will realize. the BIBLE is true and we all will stand before GOD, no more lies. Tell the truth now and turn from being what other want us to be STAND on GOD word.

  12. Sick of This, I read the link you provided and, curiously, you left something out at the very end of your clipping:

    The Chicago Tribune’s Witt defends his coverage of Jena and says Bean was a reliable source. The reporter says he found factual problems with one story promoted by Bean, “and there’s certain aspects of it that he was certainly trying to push one way or another, but, for me, that’s no different from what other sources do. And the job of journalists is to listen, to try to find the good story in there, but not to be led by the nose with a particular spin. But by and large..he was a credible source.”

    We all have our own spin, no?

  13. Obviously you missed the part where I said to read the whole article. And the part that said I left the interpretation up to you. Yes, the fact that Alan tries to push a reader one way or another was my point. The facts he printed were mostly correct. Just the parts he left out….. kinda like he in
    Winona.

  14. Didn’t Curtis Flowers testify in the first trail?? Wasn’t he found guilty and it wasn’t in Winona!!! Also, didn’t Curtis Flowers piss in his pants when the juror read guilty????

  15. Anna:
    Comments like this just make you look mean, and I don’t think that is your intention.

Comments are closed.