- Capital punishment is barbaric, unjust, and unacceptable
for any reason in modern societies. No wonder Amnesty International (AI)
calls it "the ultimate denial of human rights. It is premeditated
and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state. This cruel, inhuman
and degrading punishment is done in the name of justice."
- In fact, there's nothing just about state-sponsored murder,
especially against falsely accused victims. In America, they're mostly
poor Black or Latinos denied due process and judicial fairness by a corrupted
prosecutorial system rigged to convict even known innocent defendants like
Troy Anthony Davis.
- Today, America is the only Western country still enforcing
capital punishment. Moreover, since 1990, 30 nations abolished it, and
among 74 still executing, four are the main abusers - America, China, Vietnam
and Iran. It's long past time for total abolition of what's no longer tolerable,
affecting about 3,400 US death row prisoners, including Davis.
- Detailed information about him can be found at:
- Timeline of His Case
- At about 1:00AM on August 19, 1989, off-duty Savanah,
GA policeman Mark MacPhail had a second job working security for Burger
King when a parking lot disturbance began. Investigating, he was shot and
killed, leaving a wife, 18-month old daughter and seven-week old son.
- On August 23, 1989, Davis was arrested.
- On November 15, 1989, a grand jury indicted him for murder
despite no clear evidence linking him to the crime, including no murder
- On August 28, 1991, he was convicted.
- On August 30, 1991, he was sentenced to death.
- On February 25, 1993, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously
affirmed his conviction and sentence.
- On December 14, 2001, his attorney filed a habeas corpus
writ in federal court.
- On May 13, 2004, a Savannah federal court denied habeas
relief, saying 'there is no danger of a miscarriage of justice in declining
to hear the claim."
- On September 26, 2006, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals
in Atlanta affirmed the lower court's decision.
- On June 26, 2007, Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu petitioned
the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute Davis' sentence, citing
"mounting evidence that (he) may in fact be innocent."
- On June 29, 2007, a Savannah judge set a new execution
date from noon July 17 - noon July 24.
- On or about July 15, 2007, Pope Benedict, through his
envoy, noted evidentiary problems in asking Governor Sonny Perdue to commute
- On July 16, 2007, the state parole board issued a stay.
- On March 17, 2008, the Georgia Supreme Court, voting
4 to 3, upheld his death sentence in rejecting his request for a hearing.
- On September 12, 2008, the state parole board denied
- On September 19, 2008, former President Carter told Georgia's
parole board that refusing clemency "risks taking the life of an innocent
man and would be a grave miscarriage of justice."
- On September 23, 2008, within two hours of his scheduled
execution, the US Supreme Court granted him a stay.
- On October 14, 2008, the High Court declined to hear
- On August 17, 2009, it ordered a federal judge to hear
evidence in his case.
- On June 23, 2010, a hearing in his behalf was held in
Savannah federal court.
- On August 24, 2010, the court rejected clear exculpating
evidence, Judge William T. Moore saying it would be unconstitutional to
execute an innocent man, but Davis "is not innocent."
- On January 21, 2011, a US Supreme Court appeal was filed.
- On March 28, 2011, the Court, without explanation, denied
the appeal, clearing the way for his execution, despite Justices Breyer
and Ginsburg citing "a substantial risk of putting an innocent man
- In so doing, the Court abstained on three fundamental
- -- whether the Constitution prohibits executing an innocent
- -- what standard of proof must federal judges apply in
deciding guilt or innocence. Federal judge Moore followed very strict guidelines
others would consider unfair; and
- -- America's bedrock legal principle that guilt must
be proved "beyond all reasonable doubt," even though no constitutional
provision affirms it.
- Amnesty International (AI) on Davis
- In a "Finality over Fairness" commentary, AI
said he exhausted all appeals and now faces execution, "even though
the case against him has fallen apart."
- On May 3, AI urged one million "Tweets for Troy,"
- Georgia hasn't "yet sought a death warrant for (him),
but that is only because they have not yet figured out exactly how to take
his life." Soon, however, he "may be first in line to face execution
under a presumably new protocol," perhaps using pentobarbital to kill
- As a result, AI wants to "generate 1 million tweets
for Troy Davis. Please spread the word and direct people to the petition."
- Access it through the following link:
- Earlier on April 18, AI said setting his execution date
is "inevitable," but "execution is NOT," adding that:
- He's "run out of appeals, (but) not....out of hope,
and neither have we."
- In fact, no physical evidence links him to the crime.
Moreover, his conviction relies solely on witness testimonies, "most
of whom have recanted, and many of whom allege police pressured them into
testifying falsely at the trial."
- Nonetheless, courts convicted him anyway, rejected exculpating
evidence, proving a corrupted system, including the US Supreme Court, rigged
to murder innocent victims like Davis and many others like him.
- According to Laura Moye, AI's International USA Death
Penalty Abolition Campaign director:
- "Troy Davis' case is emblematic of a broken and
unjust death penalty system. His story speaks volumes about a criminal
justice system that is riddled with bias and error and is fixated on procedure
- "The case against Davis has unraveled, yet he still
faces execution." He's up against "a system that would rather
hold onto a decision a jury made twenty years ago than admit that some
fundamentally wrong things have happened."
- Moreover, Davis is Black. Officer McPhail was white and
a cop. Georgia's law enforcement establishment wants revenge. As a result,
anyone poor and Black or Latino is vulnerable anywhere in America. It's
the cross they bear for their race, ethnicity, and economic status in a
nation long known for racism, as virulent now as ever.
- Affidavits Recanting Earlier False Testimonies or Statements
- AI published 10 of them, including examples covered below:
- Kevin McQueen
- "The truth is that Troy never confessed to me or
talked to me about the shooting of the police officer. I made up the confession
from information I had heard on TV and from other inmates....I need to
set the record straight."
- Monty Holmes
- "I told them I didn't know anything about who shot
the officer, but they kept questioning me....I was scared (so) I told them
what they wanted to hear....I signed a statement saying that Troy told
me that he shot the cop."
- Jeffrey Sapp
- "I got tired of them harassing me, and they made
it clear that the only way they would leave me alone is if I told them
what they wanted to hear. I told them that Troy told me he did it, but
it wasn't true. Troy never said that or anything like it."
- Darrell DD Collins
- "After a couple of hours of the detectives yelling
at me and threatening me, I finally broke down and told them what they
wanted to hear....It is time that I told the truth. I am not proud for
lying at Troy's trial, but the police had me so messed up that I felt that's
all I could do or else I would go to jail."
- Michael Cooper
- "I have had a chance to review a statement which
I supposedly gave to police officers on June 25, 1991. I remember that
they asked a lot of questions and typed up a statement which they told
me to sign. I did not read the statement before I signed. In fact, I have
not seen it before today....What is written in that statement is a lie."
- A Final Comment
- A previous article discussed political prisoners in America,
accessed through the following link:
- Others addressed victims like Davis, convicted for being
Black, Latino, poor, defenseless, and vulnerable against a system corrupted
to convict. Kevin Cooper is one of many, an earlier article on him accessed
through the link below:
- On death row in California, he, too, faces execution
despite clear evidence proving his innocence. After the US Supreme Court
denied his appeal, he may die, even though 11 of 27 US Circuit Court of
Appeals justices dissented on a majority May 2009 ruling against him saying:
- "The State of California may be about to execute
an innocent man."
- Like Davis, his innocence is indisputable, yet both men
may die because of prosecutorial and judicial unfairness, trampling on
the rights of society's most vulnerable.
- It mocks the notion of innocent unless proved guilty
"beyond all reasonable doubt," a legal principle denied poor
people of color in America disgracefully.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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