Posts Tagged ‘Troy Davis’

Troy Davis & his family

Troy Davis and his family in a picture taken before the prison cut off “contact visits.”

Two days ago – incredibly, really, as it seems like just yesterday – it was two years since The State of Georgia, and America, put an innocent man to death.

Two years that Troy Davis and his family have had robbed from them. Two years of mourning.

Two years since the largest ever worldwide campaign for an innocent man to be freed when his conviction was obviously flawed was completely ignored by the parole institutions in Georgia, the Georgia Governor, the Supreme Court of the USA, and ultimately, President Obama. Two years when the State of Georgia knew better than a former head of the FBI, former president Jimmy Carter, 35 members of Congress, and even the Pope.

Not to mention petitions with literally millions of signatures on them.

That’s how obdurate the desire to kill an innocent man was.

Two years in which the anger has not dimmed.

In Troy’s memory – if you signed a petition, if you stood with a placard, if you wrote letters or emails, if you called your representative, if you commented on Facebook, if you stood vigil, if you cried – now you can continue your personal witness and purchase I Am Troy Davis, published this week and written by Jen Marlowe and Troy’s sister, Martina Correia-Davis, who died of breast cancer soon after her brother was killed.

It’s the story of Troy, his remarkable family, and the on-going struggle to end the death penalty.

Can’t say it better than Susan Sarandon: “I Am Troy Davis is a painful yet very important book” — unless it’s Maya Angelou: “Here is a shout for human rights and for the abolition of the death penalty. This book, I Am Troy Davis,should be read and cherished.”

The book tells the intimate story of an ordinary man caught up in an inexorable tragedy. From his childhood in racially-charged Savannah; to the confused events that led to the 1989 shooting of a police officer; to Davis’ sudden arrest, conviction, and two-decade fight to prove his innocence; I Am Troy Davis takes us inside a broken legal system where life and death hangs in the balance. It is also an inspiring testament to the unbreakable bond of family, to the resilience of love, and that even when you reach the end of justice, voices from across the world will rise together in chorus and proclaim, “I am Troy Davis”, I stand with you.

eve

“This book will devastate you …” Eve Ensler

If you make your purchase through the non-profit publisher, Haymarket Books, it’ll cost you just $18 to commemorate one man’s courageous yet ultimately tragic fight for justice.

And, by doing so, to make your personal stand against a justice system which is laughingly labyrinthine and slow, where process regularly overpowers any consideration of issues of right or wrong, where the application of the death penalty is obviously biased heavily against racial minorities, and which regularly has executed, and still does execute, innocent people.

A place, in other words, where “And justice for all” is clearly a sick joke. If that’s not what you want America to be, then buy the book. Buy it for friends. Buy it and donate it to your local library, or school. Buy it.

I am still Troy Davis.

Funny thing to do because you are perfectly capable, Dear Reader, in looking round the blog yourself. But with 270 new blogs in a year that’s a lot of searching, so all the “Blogging Basics” sites say I must give you a guide that you can go look through, so here it is.

Er, nope. Never happened. Nice painting though.

Er, nope. Never happened. Nice painting though.

By far the most popular blog of the year on any one day was http://wellthisiswhatithink.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/its-official-adam-and-eve-er-werent/ which garnered nearly 5,000 hits in one day (out of an annual total of more than 77,000 in 2012) when a very senior Archbishop in the Roman Catholic Church revealed what the rest of us with brains have known forever and a day anyway, which is that Genesis is true only in the sense that is is a moral fable, and not in the sense that the world was created in 7 days, or that Eve came from Adam’s rib, or that all the horrors of the world arose from munching a forbidden apple.

The really interesting thing about this story, of course, is that theologically speaking when we allow any part of the Bible text to be considered mythological then we have no argument that any other part of the Bible might not also be mythological.

Hence, just to pick a few major ones – bye bye Noah and capturing two of every living creature on the earth (including all bacteria, all 8000 species of ants, etc.), cya later Lot offering his virgin daughters to the crowd, not to mention the fact that Joshua collapsing the walls of Jericho couldn’t have happened because archaeology reveals the place was deserted when Joshua was around. Great story – good song – historical nonsense.

It seems we will just have to do what the 19th and 20th century “modernist” or “critical” theologians wanted us to do, which is read the Bible with the benefit of modern textual analysis, studying the original languages not the translations, (which, for example, can be used to argue that the Bible actually says nothing at all about gays) and taking full advantage of archaeology when we can.

The article on Adam and Eve was also the second most popular article overall of the whole year.

I think we have more to worry about than whether a Secret Serviceman did or did not employ a prostitute. Like: HIV, violence, drug addiction, social dislocation.

I think we have more to worry about than whether a Secret Serviceman did or did not employ a prostitute. Like: HIV, violence, drug addiction, social dislocation. And more.

The most popular article for the whole year was http://wellthisiswhatithink.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/the-secret-serviceman-and-the-prostitute-whats-the-real-scandal/.

I’d like to think this was all about my thoughtful analysis of hypocrisy in American moral values, the role of prostitution in modern society, the role of the media in drumming up salacious gossip, and the relationship between poverty and the sex trade.

However checking out my stats closely I suspect it’s just because the word prostitute is often typed into search engines, and the story duly pops up.

Similar big scores have been gathered with articles about tits, and even bum.

One would despair, were it not for the fact that I know that some people read the article seriously.

Similarly, promising to ignore injunctions and show people Princess Catherine of Wales (aka Kate Middleton) topless and then bottomless worked well to drum up passing trade, though I doubt many of the people who clicked on the links got the point of my tongue in cheek effort.

The third most popular post of the year was this “Gratuitously Offensive Politically Incorrect Joke”, which I still think is very funny, (it’s also a paraprosdokian by the way, and there are some more of them here, which is probably why I like it so much), and scores very highly with anyone searching for Angela Merkel in Google and so on, so the Bundesnachrichtendienst have probably given me the once-over, but decided I am harmless.

Snookie, Chelsea the Borgias and Big Tits was the fourth most popular article of the year, and has been in the Top Ten most popular almost every day of the year. I a eagerly awaiting the next series of the Borgias, not to mention the next series of Downton Abbey and Throne of Kings. I don’t mind crap TV, so long as it’s good quality crap. A lot of you seemed to agree with me that Jeremy Irons and the Crew give good crap. Snookie and the Crew? Not so much. I wish, actually, I had been a TV reviewer, which is, of course, one of the most sought after positions in journalism. Do we think it is too late, Dear Reader? Hell, no!

Last but by no means least – in fifth place – was what I have decided was the WINNER of Advertising F*** Up of the Year, in fact the very first of the series which proved incredibly popular with readers. To save you clicking back to last January, here it is:

The first poster is for a road safety campaign where Daddy has crashed his car and died. The one right next to it is for a notorious lap dancing club. I mean, really?

The first poster is for a road safety campaign where Daddy has crashed his car and died. The one right next to it is for a notorious lap dancing club. I mean, really? Really?

The Advertising F*** Up series were undoubtedly the most popular series of articles in the year. To access them, just type “F***” into the search box and they’ll all be listed for you. (Saves me doing it.)

I am enormously grateful for all the supporters of the Blog, all those who have commented, who have argued, who have provided elucidation, and who have laughed and loved. It is most popular in the USA, in the UK, and in my home country of Australia, and I guess that is inevitable. But in all, people in 172 countries read the blog, which I personally find quite humbling and astonishing, and the free spread of ideas and opinions must surely be the greatest boon the Internet has given the world.

I am especially proud, in the year just gone, for the work we were able to do on awareness to do with bullying, and Alzheimer’s, on clean water for the poor of the world, and on women’s rights. I am also very glad my feverish campaigning for Obama came out on the right side of history, and I hope his second term is more impressive than his first, which is often the case. Let us hope and pray for wisdom for all our political leaders, as the world is a long way from being out of the woods yet – economically, and politically.

I bitterly regret that my warnings on Syria, which predated most commentators in the world, were ignored, but I only have a very small lectern and it is a big world. And anyway, the world only listens when it wants to. Yesterday the United Nations estimated that 60,000 have died in this completely avoidable conflict thus far, and unless Assad’s Alawite regime can be persuaded to decamp to the safe haven of Iran pretty damn quickly that figure could still rise exponentially.  It was – and is – all so unnecessary, and so awfully, inexorably predictable.

I am also grateful for the opportunity to showcase my poetry and creative writing. Thank you for all the kind comments.

I am Bradley Manning. Are you?

I am Bradley Manning. Are you?

As the blog tipped over from 2011 into 2012, I was still deeply distressed by the murderous execution of Troy Davis, campaigning against which had occupied – unsuccessfully – so much of the start of the blog. This year, I have watched with increasing horror as the might of the modern American state has born down relentlessly on Bradley Manning, the well-meaning and honourable serviceman who set off the Wikileaks scandal by releasing for public gaze tens of thousands of classified snippets of information. Expect to hear a lot more about his case in the coming weeks, not least why I believe the man is a modern hero who should be feted, not crucified.

I am still Troy Davis. I am now Bradley Manning.

Happy New Year, Dear Reader.

Troy Davis and his family

Troy Davis and his family before the jail cut off "contact visits"

Readers of this blog will remember that I and many others spent a few weeks a while back focused with increasing horror and dread on the case of Troy Davis, an innocent man on Georgia’s Death Row who, despite all evidence against him crumbling over the course of his incarceration, and an international outcry and campaign by literally millions of people, was executed on September 21.

If you search Troy Davis on this site you will find innumerable articles outlining why he was – unquestionably – wrongly executed, to the eternal shame of all those involved in killing an innocent man.

Remember, what happened to Troy Davis could happen to anyone.

Remember, what happened to Troy Davis could happen to anyone.

Strapped to a gurney waiting for the chemicals to flood through the tubes into his veins so he could die, Troy Davis’s last words were to pray forgiveness for those about to put him to death. I have no doubt that he watches us now from somewhere in Paradise, just as I am certain that a special place in Hell has been reserved for those members of the Georgia judicial system that callously sent him there.

I spent several weeks campaigning on the Troy Davis case, but some people have spent several years, such as Jen Marlowe. Working with Amnesty International, she came to know and love the Davis family, and her work on their behalf continues – in no small part because their tragedies didn’t end with Troy’s execution.

Indeed, the tragedies didn’t even start there. Troy’s mother Virginia died suddenly in April 2011, a death her daughter Martina was sure was a result of simple heartbreak over Troy’s failure to win a commutation of his sentence. Martina herself had been struggling with breast cancer for a decade when Troy was killed; two months after burying her brother, Martina herself died.

The boy they all left behind, De’Jaun Davis-Correia, is an outstanding high school student who looked up to his uncle as a father-figure and is today hoping to attend Georgia Tech, where he wants to major in industrial engineering. It is a sign of the strength and the beauty of this family that De’Jaun is already a dedicated death penalty activist, and has been named by The Root as one of its “25 Young Futurists” for 2012.

As Emily Hauser (who wrote the original of this article, which I am merely editing) “I cannot imagine how he gets up in the morning, much less makes plans.”

But sorrow and loss aren’t the end of it. Three funerals in the space of seven months and years of cancer-related hospitalizations have resulted in bills that would overwhelm anyone.

For that reason, Jen (who is currently working on a book about Troy and Martina) is raising funds for the Davis family. Here’s the letter she sent out this week:

The Davis family lost three warriors for justice in the past seven months. Virginia Davis, the matriarch of the family, passed in April, just two weeks after the US Supreme Court denied Troy’s final appeal, paving the way for the state of Georgia to set a new execution date.

According to Martina, her mother died of a broken heart–she couldn’t bear another execution date. Troy was executed on September 21, despite an international outcry over executing a man amid such overwhelming doubt.

Troy’s sister and staunchest advocate, Martina, succumbed to her decade-long battle with cancer on December 1, exactly two months after her brother Troy’s funeral, leaving behind a teenaged son.

There are still outstanding medical and funeral bills that the Davis family must pay.

The Davis family has had to bear more tragedy and sorrow than any family should ever have to. Together, we can ensure that the financial aspect of these losses will not be a burden to them.

I have set up a simple way to contribute online to the family. I hope you will choose to help, and that you will share this information with others. All you have to do is click this link: https://www.wepay.com/donations/fund-for-troy-davis-s-family 

Any amount will be highly appreciated and will help them greatly!

Please circulate this information to others you think may be interested in helping.

Any questions can be directed to Jen Marlowe at donkeysaddle@gmail.com.

In solidarity with all the Davis family has been fighting for and in sorrow for all they have had to endure,
Jen Marlowe
Troy Davis Campaign

If you are in a position to help, please do so. I will certainly be turning out my spare change pocket to see what I can do.

As Emily says: Troy Davis is not here to help his family through this ordeal – those of us who fought for his life must now do so for him.

Perhaps, in some small way, we can all make the world a better place by getting this innocent family back on track. And pray that no member of our family is ever caught up, inextricably, in a legal nightmare that ends in their cold-blooded judicial murder.

Don’t think about doing something another time: click the link and send whatever you can, right now:

https://www.wepay.com/donations/fund-for-troy-davis-s-family

Teresa Culpepper

Teresa Culpepper's nightmare began Aug. 21, when she called police to report her truck had been taken from in front of her Hawkins Street home. She ended up being arrested for an aggravated assault allegedly committed by another woman named Teresa.

Could this happen in any other locale in the “civilised world” except somewhere in the south of the United States? I think not.

An Atlanta woman says she was mistakenly imprisoned for 53 days because police confused her for someone else with the same first name.

Teresa Culpepper says she called police to report that her truck had been stolen in August. But when they showed up at her home, they arrested her for aggravated assault committed by another Teresa.

“All she has is the same first name. The only descriptions that match are ‘Teresa’ and ‘black female,’” Culpepper’s attorney, Ashleigh Merchant told media.

Culpepper didn’t have the same address, birth date, height, or weight as the Teresa who was supposed to be arrested.

Merchant says Culpepper, who was legitimately convicted of a misdemeanor in the 90s, lives in a rough neighborhood where police are frequently on patrol.

She and her family were unable to post the $12,000 bond to get her out of jail, so she wasn’t released until her public defender found the victim of the assault and brought him to the court to say Culpepper was not the “Teresa” he had accused.

“I just don’t think in another side of town this would have ever happened,” Merchant says.

She says the city must settle with Culpepper or face a lawsuit. She says the police department is investigating the incident. “I didn’t know what to do,” Culpepper told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I didn’t know how to get out this situation.”

This is the same state, remember, that killed Troy Davis despite ample evidence he was innocent.

To be poor and black in the Southern states of the United States? And female?

No thank you, Jim Bob, Sir.

The American justice system seems to be comprehensively broken. When on earth will the ordinary folk of this great nation rise up and demand from its legislators and law enforcement agencies that they do better?

Watch TV coverage of the case here.

http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/atlanta-woman-arrested-by-1205009.html

Thanks to Yahoo and others

Troy Davis, Amanda Knox, Mark McPhail, and Meredith Kercher

Troy Davis, Amanda Knox, Mark McPhail, and Meredith Kercher

Sunday saw the burial of Troy Davis, the man who millions believed was falsely convicted of murder and who was then, in turn, killed by the State of Georgia despite a massive groundswell of support, including from some of the finest political and legal minds in America and around the world.

Today sees the freeing of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito after their appeal against conviction for killing British student Meredith Kercher was upheld, primarily because the DNA evidence that had originally played such a large part in their conviction was effectively discredited.

The similarities and contrasts in the cases are striking.

In America and Italy, the credibility of the prosecuting police and legal establishment has been comprehensively called into question, and in both cases the fervour with which the appeals process was opposed speaks to the desire of law enforcement agencies to avoid having convictions overturned and, as a result, their competence inevitably called into question.

In one case, though, the burden of evidence seemed to be impossibly flawed, and certainly inadequate to sustain the ultimate penalty for fear of a mistake being made, and yet the state went ahead and carried out the execution anyway.

In the other, an element of doubt must still remain in many people’s minds as to whether Knox and Sollecito are, in fact, innocent, because their testimony and behaviour after the murder seemed confused and contradictory, and yet the court set them free, because the high standard needed to sustain a very long period of imprisonment was not met.

In one case, the family of off-duty policeman Mark MacPhail believe justice was served, but many hundreds of thousands of people who have informed themselves on the case believe the true killer is still walking free.

In the other, Meredith Kercher’s family are now left bitterly resentful of the fact that the defendants seem to have garnered all the publicity, and now, of course, wonder who else, if anyone, was involved in the violent death of their beloved daughter. (Local small-time drug dealer and petty thief Rudy Guede has also been convicted on the same charges as Knox and Sollecito but was tried separately and is serving a 16-year sentence after exhausting his appeals.)

In both cases, the passion with which the families of the accused fought for their children was brave, heartfelt, and touching. As was the desire for justice of the families of the dead.

It seems to me that, whatever private suspicions people might have about the guilt or innocence of Knox and her co-accused, one thing is clear. If the burden of evidence was inadequate, freeing them was the right decision. They are, unquestionably, innocent, because our system of laws demand that a person is either entirely innocent or entirely guilty. If we ever lose this unbreachable, unquenchable standard within our legal system then it seems to me we revert to the dark ages.

Reflecting on the Knox trial, it is also easy to imagine how a 20 year old American girl, living the high life in Italy, could become confused, scared and browbeaten when captured in the maw of a malevolent legal system, subjected to intense enquiry in an alien environment.

Certainly that is the popular feeling about the case in America.

Perhaps this explains how in her first interrogation, Knox said she was in the house at the time of the murder and she falsely identified the owner of a bar where she worked as a waitress as the killer. He was arrested but quickly exonerated.

In court last week, Knox apologised to him. Knox now says that she was with Sollecito at his house all night and that her initial comments were misunderstood and only given after heavy questioning. She admitted she was wrong, the court had to decide whether she was actually misunderstood or lying, and why she would lie, if guiltless. Perhaps Knox was indeed guilty and casting around in her confusion for a way out? Or perhaps she merely acted foolishly, in terror at the situation she found herself in, or as she says, perhaps she was simply misunderstood?

In short, we will never know for certain, and we offer up a silent prayer of thanks that it was not our child caught in such a situation. The judges and jurors in the appeal court agreed that the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and as such, Knox must walk free, and without a stain on her character.

One can only imagine how the family of Troy Davis must feel when, as is surely inevitable, they review the news coverage of this case. In one jurisdiction, an appeals process established without question that the evidence originally submitted was highly questionable. In the other, the appeals process positively discriminated against hearing such evidence, preferring to focus on procedural niceties that seemed designed to keep the guilty man headed for the death chamber, no matter what. Remember: there was no DNA evidence linking Davis to the crime, and the murder weapon was never found. And yet the appeals process remained stony-faced.

And it must be said: in one case, the defendants were a pair of attractive middle-class lovers, young, beautiful  – and white. In the other, he was a black man in a southern state of the USA.

Last but by no means least, let us reflect at length that Knox and her co-accused, in a different jurisdiction, could have been executed before they were exonerated. Yet within days, she will be walking the streets of her home town, considering, no doubt, book and movie deals, seeking to get her life back on track.

As you read this, hundreds of other death sentence appeals grind their way through the American legal system. Men and women sit on death row, under unimaginable strain, and sometimes for decades. Can anyone say with certainty that an indefinable number of those slated for execution are not, in fact, entirely innocent, when we know for sure that many posthumous pardons have had to be issued for innocent people who have been executed, in America and elsewhere?

One fact in these sad stories is indisputable. Troy Anthony Davis was buried in the cold ground of Savannah, Georgia on Sunday. I am Troy Davis.

Where will it end? Will the outrage simply peter out over time? Or are we seeing the beginning of a mass movement to end the death penalty in America once more? I would very much appreciate your opinions.

http://newamericamedia.org/2011/09/troy-davis-protesters-occupy-wall-street.php

How sad to see the police in NY reacting with typical brutishness. Has anything changed since 1968?

Remember, what happened to Troy Davis could happen to anyone.

Remember, what happened to Troy Davis could happen to anyone.

In the bleak hours since Troy Davis was killed for a crime he did not commit, more facts continue to emerge about the farcical state of the legal processes that condemned him to death. Apart from the fact that courts repeatedly refused to allow new evidence to be submitted on Davis’s behalf – in other words, the truth does not matter, merely the upholding of whatever legal morass is in power at the time – more evidence of the unreliability of the witnesses that were originally produced is coming out.

A member of Davis’ legal team from the Washington law firm Arnold & Porter said there was too much doubt about the eyewitness testimony at the 1991 trial to let Davis be convicted.

In a telephone interview the lawyer confirmed that the eyewitnesses included an man who initially said he could not recognize the shooter except for the clothes he was wearing; a woman who initially said she could not put a face with the shooter; a woman who said she recognized Davis in the dark from more than 120 feet away; and a man who was looking through his car’s tinted windows and said he was only 60 percent sure he could identify Davis.

“You can’t execute someone based on that kind of testimony,” the defnece team member said. “It’s unconscionable.” Nevertheless, just before 11pm on Wednesday night, the state, in our name, injected Davis with poison and killed him. His last words were to again plead his innocence directly to the family of the police officer he was wrongly accused of killing, and to pray for the souls of those about to end his life. It may strike you that these were hardly the actions of a callous murderer with nothing left to lose.

But even worse, Jennifer Dysart, an expert on the problems associated with eyewitness testimony, said she had planned to testify at Monday’s clemency hearing, but the parole board ended Davis’ presentation before she could give her presentation.

In an interview today, Dysart said numerous studies show that eyewitness testimony is unreliable and the procedures used by Savannah police in the Davis investigation would not be allowed today.

“Even if the parole board didn’t believe the recantations, there were significant problems with all the eyewitness testimony,” she said “Nothing reliable should come from that testimony. I wish the board had heard my presentation.”

Let’s just make that clear. The Parole Board simply refused to hear expert testimony, when a man’s life was at stake, and after over a million signatures requesting clemency had been collected.

I would like to suggest my readers also visit Emily Hauser’s blog, which initially alerted me to this case. Her musings after the sentence was carried out, and her suggestions for how people can maintain their rage and make a difference, are touching and well worth reading. Head to http://emilylhauserinmyhead.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/dear-readers-veteran-and-new/

It is also worth considering, I believe, how the efforts of warm-hearted people like Emily turned this case into a cause celebre that has swept the world in recent weeks. It is both a reflection of the new power associated with the Internet, and the importance of the little people, the ordinary individuals, who are prepared to stand up, perhaps for the first time, and say “Not In My Name”. In this case, it proved to be fruitless, but in other cases it will not. In the long term, we may trace major changes to the sad date of 21st Septemeber. In any event, the sheer outpouring of compassion and understanding in itself gives Troy’s dreadful sacrifice meaning. He has left the world a better place, bitter though the price was which he had to pay.

This will, except in terms of the most dramatic news coming to light, be my last post on this case. I am grateful for the very many messages of support sent to me personally, and much more grateful for those who weighed in to campaign on Troy’s behalf. It is clear to anyone except those with an emotional, legal or practical investment in seeing Troy Davis killed that a terrible, terrible wrong has been done. All we can do know is work, uncreasingly, to prevent more injustices from occuring, in America and elsewhere. In Iran a couple of days ago a 17 year old was hanged publicly for stabbing to death a much larger man who he had claimed attacked him over a raod rage incident. In China there is ample evidence that people are executed for minor crimes in order to harvest their body parts.

Until the cancer of the death penalty is removed, everywhere, the anger endures, and the fight goes on.

And last but not least: remember that if they can kill Troy Davis when the evidence against him was clearly totally flawed, when more than one million people including law enforcement officers, Presidents, politicians, churchmen and many more pleaded with them not to, then they can frame and kill you, too.

Yes, you. Or your mother, or your father. Or your husband, wife, brother or sister. Or your child.

The Supreme Court is considering the case. No one knows what will happen, although I believe execution is still by far the most likely result.

Watch live feed of the protest outside the prison here, especially if you are interested in stopping the death penalty generally, as there are many interesting people being interviewed as we await news:

http://www.democracynow.org/

Well done, Democracy now.

A million people have signed petitions, from around the USA and around the world. One million people have weighed the evidence, and found it fatally flawed. ONE MILLION.

Troy Davis dies at 7pm unless we can save him

Troy Davis dies at 7pm unless we can save him

People like the Pope, Archbishop Tutu and President Jimmy Carter have condemned the conviction as unsafe. A host of conservative figures are among those who have advocated on Davis’ behalf, including former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr and former Texas Governor Mark White (both death penalty supporters), ex-Justice Department official Larry Thompson and one-time FBI Director William Sessions.

And yet the fools on the Georgia Parole and Pardons Board know better. Is it that they simply believe that some black man has to die for the death of a white officer, so it may as well be Davis? They clearly don’t care that killing him lets the true murderer walk free.

Despite the late hour, there is still time to appeal to Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm by signing the Amnesty petition to him here, even if you have previously signed the larger petition given to the paroles board: http://tinyurl.com/4y67t93

Chisholm is pretending he doesn’t have the power to intervene. In my opinion he is blatantly just trying to defuse the heat in the situation and ducking his responsibility. Let us hope that the uproar if Troy is killed will cost him his job.

Yahoo reported the news as follows: “The board has considered the totality of the information presented in this case and thoroughly deliberated on it, after which the decision was to deny clemency,” the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles said in its statement on Tuesday.

The five person parole board that will allow Troy to be killed

The five person parole board that will allow Troy to be killed

The panel, which convened on Monday in the state capital, Atlanta, and deliberated overnight, added that board members “have not taken their responsibility lightly, and certainly understand the emotions attached to a death penalty case”, but nevertheless had rejected his appeal for clemency.

(However, the sole woman on the Board used to be with a police dept, one member was the ex-counsel of the Prosecuting Attorneys Assoc. of Georgia and one was a former Commissioner of Corrections in Georgia. Not likely to have the backbone to grant clemency for an alleged cop killer no matter how obvious it is that they got the wrong guy for the crime.)

Davis was convicted of shooting to death an off-duty police officer who intervened in a brawl in a car park in Savannah, Georgia in 1989, but there was no physical evidence and seven out of nine witnesses later recanted their testimony, some (including a boy who was 16 at the time of the shooting) claiming police coercian and threats of being jailed themselves. Seems like the good old boys are alive and well in the southern states of the US.

Davis escaped three previous dates with death during more than two decades of appeals. All avenues now appear exhausted as Georgia’s governor does not have the power to stay executions and experts said any last-minute filings to the state courts or the US Supreme Court would likely prove to be unsuccessful.

Barring an unexpected turn of events, Davis will be put to death by lethal injection at 2300 GMT on Wednesday (0900 AEST Thursday) at a prison in Jackson, south of Atlanta, with the victim’s widow and children looking on.

Davis repeatedly has maintained his innocence and his supporters pointed to a corrupted justice system in the deep South, saying a black man was wrongly and hastily convicted of killing a white police officer.

“I am utterly shocked and disappointed at the failure of our justice system at all levels to correct a miscarriage of justice,” Davis lawyer Brian Kammer said as rights groups and anti-death penalty activists rushed to condemn the decision.

Amnesty International said the prosecution’s case against Davis long ago had been shown to be flawed.

“Seven out of nine original state witnesses recanted or changed their original testimonies, some alleging police coercion,” said Amnesty’s US director, Larry Cox. “Ten people have pointed to one of the remaining witnesses as the actual killer. There is no murder weapon that links Davis to the crime. Any notion of physical evidence that demonstrates Davis’ guilt has been debunked.”

Amnesty called a protest rally at the Georgia state capitol exactly 24 hours before Davis is due to become the 34th person to be executed in the United States this year.

At a protest outside Monday’s parole board hearing, an estimated 150 to 200 demonstrators carried signs saying “Justice, Free Troy Davis” and “We are Troy Davis”. Another placard read “Too much Doubt. Save Troy Davis.”

Supporters have appealed for Davis to be allowed to take a polygraph test, and a Georgia State Senator has urged prison staff to strike to prevent the execution going ahead. But as things stand, Troy will be dead a little after 7pm Thursday.

Personally, I trust Satan has a special place in Hell reserved for those who have allowed this to happen. Their immortal souls are doomed. One can only hope they reflect on this as they head to Church next Sunday. Hypocrites and cowards the lot of them.

Having signed the latest petition, all we can really do is pray. For a peaceful calm for Troy as he walks to an unjust death, and for the tears of his family as they watch him die.

Many people have asked me for the full details of why Troy Davis should not be executed next week. Rather than express a purely personal view, I think it would be more helpful if people could read the full story from an independent source, in this case the NAACP, who yesterday delivered more than 660,000 signatures to the Georgia Paroles Board arguing that Davis’s case does not allow the death penalty to be fairly applied. You can watch the delivery of the petition here:

And there is still time – urgently – for you and your friends to sign the Amnesty International petititon here:

http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/ActionItem.aspx?c=6oJCLQPAJiJUG&b=6645049&aid=12970

American residents can email the Governor of Georgia directly here:

http://gov.georgia.gov/00/gov/contact_us/0,2657,165937316_166563415,00.html

(There is a link for overseas residents to email him at the top of the form.)

Meanwhile, here are the detailed facts of the case. They reveal the iniquity of suggesting Troy Davis should be legally murdered. They are also an utter indictment of the judicial system that would allow such a thing to happen.

In its public order granting a stay of execution to Troy Davis in 2007, the Board of Pardons and Paroles set out a standard for clemency: “[The Board] will not allow an execution to proceed in this State unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused.”

Case Background

In the early morning hours of August 19, 1989, several people including Troy Davis and Sylvester “Redd” Coles were hanging out near a Burger King parking lot adjoined to a Greyhound bus station in Savannah, Georgia.  Coles started arguing with a homeless man named Larry Young, demanding that Young give him a beer.  As Young walked away, he was pistol-whipped in the head.  Police officer Mark MacPhail, serving off-duty as a security guard at the bus station, responded to a call for help.  As he came running to Young’s aid he was shot and killed by the same man who had attacked Young.  The day after the shooting, Coles went to the police station with his lawyer and said that Troy Davis was the shooter.

Major Issues in the Case

1) Witnesses Implicate a Different Man as the Shooter

Since the Board last examined Davis’ case, two additional witnesses have implicated Sylvester Coles.  First is Benjamin Gordon, who clearly testified at the 2010 federal evidentiary hearing that he saw Coles shoot Officer MacPhail.  Gordon recounted specific details of the shooting that have not been publicized and police reports hours after the shooting put him across the street from the crime scene at the moment of the shooting.  Gordon is related to Coles, has known him all his life, has been ostracized by his family for testifying and has said that he kept quiet all these years for fear of Coles retaliating against him.

Second is Quiana Glover, who, like Gordon, has no connection to Davis or his family and has known Coles most of her life.  She has sworn that she heard a flustered Coles confess in 2009 to the MacPhail murder.  Unfortunately, her testimony was excluded at the 2010 evidentiary hearing.  Several witnesses have implicated Coles in sworn statements, including two others who stated he confessed to the murder.

2) Investigation Excluded Important Figure as a Suspect

In the investigation, Coles was never treated as a suspect, despite the fact that he indisputably was the one who began the altercation with Young that led to the shooting of Officer MacPhail.  Several witnesses indicated that only one person was arguing with Young and this person was also the shooter.  Coles admitted at trial that he was arguing with Young.  Further, Coles admitted to having had a .38 caliber revolver that night, the exact type of gun used to shoot MacPhail.  There was never a search for his gun nor did he ever produce it, claiming it was lost; therefore, it could never be tested.

Of the eyewitnesses to the murder, only Coles and Darrell Collins (who tried to recant before and after trial) knew Davis.  It is critical to note how most of the eyewitnesses first identified Davis as the shooter.  Within a week of the murder, they were gathered together by the police for a reenactment of the crime at the crime scene.  By then, witnesses would have likely been exposed to Davis’ image, which was all over the local news and he was in jail as the prime suspect.  In a photographic spread of five men, Davis was the only one pictured who had been at the crime scene close to the time of the shooting.  Not only was Coles not pictured, but he was treated as the principle witness, invited to the reenactment, and treated as an innocent bystander standing alongside the other witnesses.

3) Most of State’s Witnesses Contradicted Their Testimony

Don't kill Troy Davis - there is too much doubt

Too much doubt to kill a man

Since trial in 1991, seven of the nine state trial witnesses have contradicted their testimony or admitted their testimony was false.  Additionally, several informants who testified at trial also recanted.  All of the state trial witnesses who recanted that are still alive have testified to the Board or the federal district court:

  • Kevin McQueen told the Board in 2007 that he was a jailhouse snitch and that his testimony that Troy Davis confessed to him was a complete fabrication.
  • Larry Young told the Board in 2007 that Coles, not Davis, most likely attacked and pistol-whipped him.  The record shows that the shooter attacked Young before shooting MacPhail.
  • Antoine Williams told the Board in 2008 that he had serious doubts about his identification of Davis.  Also, he told the board the shooter was the same man arguing with Young.
  • Darrell Collins recanted his police statement at trial and at the 2010 federal evidentiary hearing, testifying that the police had threatened him as an accessory if he did not implicate Troy Davis.
  • Jeffrey Sapp told the Board in 2007 that his trial testimony that Troy Davis confessed to him was a fabrication that was a result of police suggestion and intimidation.
  • Dorothy Ferrell told the Board in 2008 that she lied at trial when she confidently implicated Davis.  The shooter’s light colored skin led her to conclude before trial that Coles was the likely shooter (Coles’ complexion is lighter than Davis’, hence the nick name “Redd”).  Ferrell testified at trial that she could identify Davis, despite being positioned across a four-lane tree-lined boulevard with poor lighting conditions at 1:00am.
  • Harriet Murray (died in 2006) signed an affidavit in 2002 reaffirming her initial statements that the shooter was the same person who argued and followed Young.  She could not initially “put a face” on anyone in the lot and identified Davis only after the problematic crime reenactment.

Of the two witnesses who have not contradicted their trial testimony, one (Steven Sanders) could only identify Troy Davis at trial, two years after he told police that he “wouldn’t know the shooter again if I saw him.”  The other is Sylvester Coles, whose recantation would implicate himself.

4) New Analysis of Physical Evidence Contradicts the State’s Case

In 2008, the State submitted to the Board a report by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) that purportedly showed the presence of blood on a pair of shorts recovered from Davis’ home in the days after the murder.  Davis’ attorneys were unaware of the existence of this report.  Following the Board’s denial of clemency in 2008, a DNA and serology expert reviewed the full GBI report.  The federal court in 2010, after reviewing the new expert analysis, concluded that “the shorts in no way linked Mr. Davis to the murder of Officer MacPhail,” and found that “it is not even clear that the substance was blood.”  The court concluded that even if the substance was blood, it “could have belonged to Mr. Davis, Mr. Larry Young, Officer MacPhail, or even [could] have gotten onto the shorts entirely apart from the events of that night.”  Therefore, the value of this item as evidence has been thoroughly challenged.

Justifications for Clemency

In 2004, Willie James Hall was granted clemency partly because former jurors said they would have voted for life without parole had it been an option.  Davis’ 1991 jury took ample time to deliberate on the sentence and asked the judge whether life without parole was an option, but it was not.  In 2007, before Davis’ first execution date, four jurors signed affidavits expressing concerns and a desire that the execution not proceed.  Juror Brenda Forest said in a TV interview, “If I knew then what I know now, Troy Davis would not be on death row…the verdict would be ‘not guilty.”

Because executive clemency exists to provide a final failsafe it is not bound by the same strict rules and procedures as the courts.  The Board is able to intervene in cases like Mr. Davis’ where the evidence is circumstantial and contradictory.  Davis’ task in federal court was to prove his innocence.  While the court felt he did not meet this admittedly “extraordinarily high” burden, serious and unresolved doubts persist.  These doubts put Georgia at risk of an irreversible and monumental mistake which could weaken public confidence in the justice system.  By following the “no doubt” standard made by the Board in 2007 and commuting Davis’ sentence to life imprisonment, today’s Board could eliminate this risk altogether by choosing to mercifully err on the side of life.

PLEASE ACT NOW. THIS MAN HAS LESS THAN ONE WEEK TO LIVE – AND GEORGIA POLICE, PROSECUTORS, GOVENOR AND PEOPLE SHOULD THINK ABOUT THIS: THE REAL MURDERER IS STILL AT LARGE.

Troy Davis is going to die if we do nothing.

Troy Davis is going to die if we do nothing.

Troy Davis is almost certainly innocent on the crime for which he is about to be executed. At the very least, his sentence should be commuted while new evidence is properly examined, because the laws of his state, Georgia, insist that no execution can proceed when there is doubt about the conviction. Read this fine article, and weep:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/09/explaining-the-death-penalty-to-my-children/245020/

If you haven’t done so already, please sign the Amnesty International petition here:

http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/ActionItem.aspx?c=6oJCLQPAJiJUG&b=6645049&aid=12970

Imagine walking into the execution chamber, to have your life snuffed out for something you – and tens of thousands of other people – know you didn’t do. Imagine how that feels. Imagine how it feels for your family, watching you walk to your certain death.

And then sign the petition. And ask your friends to do the same. At least then, if they do murder Troy Davis, you can say as you look around at your own family eating dinner or watching TV, or you lie down to sleep at night, “Well, at least I tried”.

Troy Davis faces the death penalty

Troy Davis in the Chatham County Superior Court during his trail in the shooting death of off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail. (AP Photo/Savannah Morning News)

At the very least, the doubts about his conviction should make imposing the death penalty – planned for just a few short days from now – unthinkable. (By its own rules, Georgia is obliged to set aside the death penalty where reasonable doubt exists.)

Please take action. As a first step, read Emily Hauser’s blog. (The link is below.) Then either sign the Amnesty International petition, or contact the Georgia authorities, or both. His life is, quite literally, in your hands.

Troy Davis given execution date. « Emily L. Hauser – In My Head.

Listen to details of the case here: