[Ppnews] Demand Clemency - The Pending Execution of Troy Davis

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Sep 10 11:44:21 EDT 2008


http://www.counterpunch.org/marlowe09102008.html

September 10, 2008


A Case for Clemency


The Pending Execution of Troy Davis

By LAURA TATE KAGEL
and JEN MARLOWE

Troy Anthony Davis’ execution date and time has 
been set. If clemency is not granted, Davis will 
soon be choosing his last meal and determining 
how his body should be disposed of after his 
death, scheduled for 7pm on September 23rd.

Davis’ case for clemency is compelling, and has 
already attracted the attention of media and 
human rights groups in July of last year. 
Twenty-four hours before Davis’ scheduled 
execution on July 16, 2007, the Georgia State 
Board of Pardons and Paroles issued a ninety-day 
stay to allow it to consider evidence of 
innocence presented at Davis’ clemency hearing.

The Georgia Supreme Court subsequently agreed to 
hear the death row prisoner's extraordinary 
motion for a new trial, but in March the Court 
rejected the motion largely on procedural grounds in a 4-3 vote.

Troubled by this result, Chief Justice Sears stated in her 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.”

In July of 2007, the Board of Pardons and Paroles 
said that it would “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.”

But were Davis to be granted a new trial today, 
the State would have great difficulty proving its 
case beyond a reasonable doubt. There was no 
physical evidence linking Davis to the crime for 
which he was convicted, the 1989 murder of an 
off-duty police officer in Savannah, Mark 
MacPhail. At the trial, the witness testimony 
presented inconsistencies, and since then, seven 
of nine non-police witnesses have recanted or 
contradicted their original testimony, several 
citing that they gave their original statements 
against Davis under police intimidation or coercion.

Furthermore, affidavits signed by numerous people 
who came forward after Davis' conviction 
implicate one of the non-recanting witnesses in 
the murder. These affidavits put that witness, 
Sylvester Coles, at the scene with a .38 caliber 
gun – the same caliber as the murder weapon, and 
detail how he hid the gun after the shooting in a 
dark parking lot and even later boasted about 
having committed the murder and escaping 
punishment. At the time of the original 
investigation, Coles and his lawyer met promptly 
with the police, who subsequently neglected to 
question Cole’s involvement in the murder, search 
his house for the murder weapon, or include his 
picture in witness photo spreads.

The testimony of the other non-recanting witness 
is also highly questionable. He identified Davis 
at trial as the shooter, although he had claimed 
two years earlier that he “wouldn’t recognize 
them [the shooter and another man at the scene] 
again except for their clothes.”

Numerous national, state, and local human rights 
groups and individuals are taking actions to 
protest Davis’ imminent fate. They are organizing 
a rally to take place on September 11th at six in 
the evening at the State Capitol in Atlanta, a 
day before Troy’s scheduled clemency hearing with 
the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles. Amnesty 
International launched an on-line letter-writing 
campaign at 
<http://www.amnestyusa.org/troydavis>www.amnestyusa.org/troydavis 
to urge the Board to be true to their July 2007 
words, stating that no execution would proceed in 
Georgia unless and until its members are 
convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt 
of the accused. If Troy Anthony Davis, whose case 
against him is full of holes, doubts and 
discrepancies, is executed on September 23rd, it 
will be, indeed, a travesty of justice.

Laura Tate Kagel is the State Death Penalty 
Abolition Coordinator for Amnesty International USA in Georgia.

Jen Marlowe is an activist/writer/filmmaker who 
has been following Troy Davis’s case and corresponding via letters with Davis.

<HTTP://www.amnestyusa.org/troydavis>www.amnestyusa.org/troydavis

Justice Matters: Rally to Save Troy Davis

Thursday, September 11, 2008

6 - 8 p.m.

Georgia State Capitol

(front steps on Washington St.)

Atlanta, GA

<mailto:troy at aiusa.org>troy at aiusa.org / 404-876-5661 ext. 13




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