A murder is about to be committed. It can occur anytime between today and September 28th. No, I’m not talking about one of the random and senseless acts of murder that plague this country daily. I’m talking about the systematically planned murder of Troy Davis.
Troy Anthony Davis (born October 9, 1968) is an American death row inmate convicted of the August 19, 1989, murder of Savannah, Georgia, police officer Mark MacPhail. MacPhail was working as a security guard at a Burger King when he intervened to defend a man being assaulted in a nearby parking lot. Davis was convicted as the assailant. During Davis’ 1991 trial, witnesses testified they had seen Davis shoot MacPhail, and two others testified that Davis confessed to them. Although the murder weapon was not recovered, ballistic evidence presented at trial tied bullets recovered at or near the scene to those at another shooting in which Davis was also charged. Davis was convicted of murder and various lesser charges, including the earlier shooting, and was sentenced to death in August 1991. Davis maintained his innocence, and attracted a number of defenders, who campaigned on his behalf. Various appeals in state and federal courts followed his conviction. Davis and his lawyers argued that the racial composition of the jury (seven of the twelve were black, as is Davis) and poor advocacy from his lawyers had affected his right to a fair trial. According to the defense, seven of the original nine eyewitnesses who had linked Davis to the killing subsequently signed affidavits changing all or part of their trial testimony. Several stated they had felt pressure by police to implicate Davis. New witnesses implicated Sylvester “Redd” Coles in the crime. The appeals were denied with state and federal courts declaring that Davis had not provided a “substantive claim” of innocence and that the recantations were unpersuasive. In July 2007, September 2008, and October 2008, execution dates were scheduled, but each execution was stayed shortly before it was to take place. Amnesty International and other groups such as National Association for the Advancement of Colored People took up Davis’ cause. Prominent politicians and leaders, including former President Jimmy Carter, Al Sharpton, Pope Benedict XVI, Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, presidential candidate Bob Barr and former FBI Director and judge William S. Sessions called upon the courts to grant Davis a new trial or evidentiary hearing. In August 17, 2009, the Supreme Court of the United States, over the dissenting votes of two justices, ordered a federal district court in Georgia to consider whether new evidence “that could not have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes Davis’ innocence”. The evidentiary hearing was held in June 2010, during which affidavits from several prosecution witnesses from the trial changing or recanting their previous testimony were presented; some affiants asserted they had been coerced by police. The State presented witnesses, including the police investigators and original prosecutors, denying any coercion. Other witnesses who had not testified at trial asserted that Coles had confessed to the killing, but this evidence was excluded as hearsay as Coles was not subpoenaed by the defense to rebut it. In an August 2010 decision, the conviction was upheld by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, which described defense efforts to upset the conviction as “largely smoke and mirrors”. Subsequent appeals, including to the Supreme Court, were rejected, and a fourth execution date was set for September 21, 2011. Over 650,000 people signed petitions urging the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant clemency. Following a hearing, the Board denied him clemency, and on September 21, 2011, the Board denied a request to reconsider its decision.
At this very moment, there is a court ordered delay of the murder of Troy Davis. And I say murder because that’s just what this is. A premeditated murder soon to be committed by Georgia’s penal system. Troy Davis’ order of murder has until September 28th to be enacted. One has to wonder is Georgia really that hungry for a return to the “good ol’ days” where a Black man was murdered with more impunity than he is now. Please join me in calling the attorney general on the Troy Davis case and demanding this travesty of justice be stopped: 202.514.2001. And please join me in praying for the life of Troy Davis.