"Where is the Justice for Me?" The Tragic Case of Troy Davis

Posted by Stephen F. Rohde on March 20th, 2008
Troy Davis

We can now add the case of Troy Davis to the ever-growing list of injustices in the system of state killing.

Davis was sentenced to death for the murder of Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail at a Burger King in Savannah, Georgia; a murder he steadfastly 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 deefense, against whom there is new evidence implicating him as the gunman. Nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles.

Troy himself has explained what happened:

"In 1989 I surrendered myself to the police for crimes I knew I was innocent of in an effort to seek justice through the court system in Savannah, Georgia USA. ... In the past I have had lawyers who refused my input, and would not represent me in the manner that I wanted to be represented. I have had witnesses against me threatened into making false statements to seal my death sentence and witnesses who wanted to tell the truth were vilified in court."

"Because of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, the blatant racism and bias in the U.S. Court System, I remain on death row in spite of a compelling case of my innocence. Finally I have a private law firm trying to help save my life in the court system, but it is like no one wants to admit the system made another grave mistake. Am I to be made an example of to save face? Does anyone care about my family who has been victimized by this death sentence for over 16 years? Does anyone care that my family has the fate of knowing the time and manner by which I may be killed by the state of Georgia?"

"Where is the justice for me?"


On March 17, in a narrow 4-3 decision, the Georgia Supreme Court rejected Davis' appeal, finding that the evidence of his innocence came too late despite the fact that he offered "affidavit testimony consisting of four types, recantations by trial witnesses, statements recounting alleged admissions of guilt by Coles, statements that Coles disposed of a handgun following the murder, and an alleged eyewitness account."

As the Chief Justice noted in his dissent:

"I believe that this case illustrates that this Court's approach in extraordinary motions for new trials based on new evidence is overly rigid and fails to allow an adequate inquiry into the fundamental question, which is whether or not an innocent person might have been convicted or even, as in this case, might be put to death.

"We have noted that recantations by trial witnesses are inherently suspect, because there is almost always more reason to credit trial testimony over later recantations. However, it is unwise and unnecessary to make a categorical rule that recantations may never be considered in support of an extraordinary motion for new trial. The majority cites case law stating that recantations may be considered only if the recanting witness's trial testimony is shown to be the 'purest fabrication' To the extent that this phrase cautions that trial testimony should not be lightly disregarded, it has obvious merit. However, it should not be corrupted into a categorical rule that new evidence in the form of recanted testimony can never be considered, no matter how trustworthy it might appear. If recantation testimony, either alone or supported by other evidence, shows convincingly that prior trial testimony was false, it simply defies all logic and morality to hold that it must be disregarded categorically."


Three members of the Georgia Supreme Court believe it "defies all logic and morality" that Troy Davis is facing execution despite immense evidence of his innocence. One more vote and Davis would be spared the death chamber and get a new trial.

Where is the justice for Troy Davis?  TAKE ACTION NOW!





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Comments

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  1. Comment by Jerry Smith, Oct 6th, 2011 7:53am

    if they werernt sure of the case they should of just put him in jail for LIFE not put him to death gshit... blacks are still getting treated different til dis day.. if tht was a white man he wouldnt of faced them charges


  2. Comment by Clint Myers, Apr 23rd, 2008 6:03pm

    According to the convicts in prison, there isn't a guilty soul in the joint! "Lawyer screwed me" "witnesses lied". In court you don't have to prove that you're innocent--just raise a doubt of guilt. The state has to prove that you did it and in this case, they did!
    Also, no Federal guidlines, pleeease! States rights must have jurisdiction as long as they don't cross the Constitution.
    Myers


  3. Comment by Anthony, Apr 21st, 2008 1:52pm

    I beleive in the death penalty but i think the guidelines should be the same for every state. I live in Arizona and if I was to shoot a man and kill him over drugs i may get 30 years but go to Texas and do the same crime i get the death penalty. If America is so strong why can't our states agree on punishments? This guy Try clearly deserves a new trial Ray Charles could see that. This guy needs Reggie Jacksons help to spread the word.


  4. Comment by Umberto Figliuzzi, Apr 17th, 2008 2:20am

    "Parmi un assurdo, che le leggi, che sono l'espressione della pubblica volontà, che detestano e puniscono l'omicidio, ne commettano uno esse medesime, e, per allontanare i cittadini dall'assassinio, ne ordinino uno pubblico”

    Cesare Beccaria


  5. Comment by Shawn, Apr 14th, 2008 3:21pm

    I agree that the death penalty should be abolished but the same hypocrisy pointed out regarding a "culture of life" goes both ways. Most who advocate abolishing the death penalty would also support a woman's selfish want, not right, to kill innocent babies. If you want any moral ground in this argument then you must reject state sponsored killings in the prisons and in the womb.


  6. Comment by Geoff Allshorn, Apr 11th, 2008 3:08am

    People as far away as Australia are amazed and somewhat mystified by the continued use of the death penalty within the USA. Your President speaks about wanting to promote "a culture of life" and yet your lawmakers continue to support legalized murder.

    The death penalty is being increasingly abolished by nations around the world, and it is my sincere wish that the right-thinking citizens of the USA will soon take steps to join this world-wide movement.


  7. Comment by Stephen Rohde, Apr 3rd, 2008 11:01am

    For more details on the Troy Davis case, go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/Death-Penalty/Troy-Davis-Finality-Over-Fairness/page.do?id=1011343&n1=3&n2=28&n3=1412

    Eyewitness misidentification (either through human error or coercion (accidental or intentional) is the leading cause of wrongful conviction in the US. Go to: http://www.innocenceproject.org/understand/Eyewitness-Misidentification.php


  8. Comment by David Johnson, Apr 2nd, 2008 11:39am

    Why did the witnesses falsely testify in the first place?Would someone please be specific to the factual remarks at trial and the reasons for recantations. Where was Mr. Davis during the murder? Did Mr. Davis testify at all during the trial? What did his testimony state? Pleases answer these questions.


 

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