I Am Troy Davis

Update 9/21/2011 11:08 PM EST RIP Troy Davis. In his final statement, he stated he was sorry for McPhail family loss, but that he did not do it. He encouraged the family to dig deeper and find out who actually did it. Unfortunately, case closed - nothing more will be done. They say they got their man. This is one sad day in the history of this country. This is not how this article was supposed to end.

Update 9/21/2011 10:21 PM EST Supreme Court has refused to stay the execution of Troy Davis.

I am Troy Davis. You are Troy Davis. Someone you know is Troy Davis.

RIP Troy Davis - Executed 9/21/2011

In the event you’re not aware who Troy Davis is, I will briefly share that he is a man who has just received a reprieve from execution in Georgia. How long that is for is unknown at this point, but it is not a stay. It can mean only a matter of hours or days.  Troy is an African-American man, accused and convicted of killing a white police officer, and without any physical evidence. 

An email form which appeared on Death Penalty Focus provides a summary:

To the Board of Pardons and Paroles and District Attorney Larry Chisolm:

I am writing you today to ask you to reconsider the decision to deny clemency for Troy Davis. There is a severe lack of physical evidence. Seven of nine witnesses have recanted or changed their testimony. Multiple jurors who originally voted in favor of the death penalty have asked that Troy not be executed.

The execution of a man despite serious doubts about his guilt undermines the credibility of the Georgia justice system, and is a risk that should not be tolerated.

Please do the right thing and stop the execution of Troy Davis.

Larry Chisolm, the District Attorney, washed his own hands by simply stating, "We appreciate the outpouring of interest in this case; however, this matter is beyond our control."

"He has had ample time to prove his innocence," said MacPhail's widow, Joan MacPhail-Harris. "And he is not innocent." This struck me as absolutely contrary to our judicial system – the fact that one had to prove innocence, rather than being presumed innocent.

Amnesty International offers further insight:

The high court set a tough standard for Davis to exonerate himself, ruling that his attorneys must "clearly establish" Davis' innocence — a higher bar to meet than prosecutors having to prove guilt.

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 defense, against whom there is new evidence implicating him as the gunman. Nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles.

For me, I was riveted to the Twitter feed, as that seemed to be the best source for live coverage. I then discovered Democracy Now! as a result of reading everything I could, and Amy Goodman tirelessly provided the only live feed that I could find.

CNN seemed to be a bit slow with their updates (at least compared to Twitter), and Fox News correspondent John Roberts reportedly claimed to be “inside,” awaiting the death announcement, and then apparently reported the execution at 7:11 EST. White Supremacist James Byrd was executed in Texas at 7:21, so maybe he just got confused?

Regardless of your position on the Death Penalty, all would agree that no innocent person should ever be executed. If there is even a slim chance that an error has taken place with the prosecution and conviction of Troy Davis, it must be explored.

In any event, this story does not end here. Apparently Justice Clarence Thomas will determine the next move, but one thing is certain -- there is no room for this type of injustice in America. Many will now know who Troy Davis is, and perhaps more importantly, that something needs to be done with the judicial system in Georgia.

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