[Ppnews] Movement to Save Troy Davis! Act Now!

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sat Sep 20 11:33:40 EDT 2008


It's not too late to TAKE ACTION!!! 

September 20, 2008

What’s the Rush?


Troy Davis, who was convicted of shooting a 
police officer to death in the parking lot of a 
Burger King in Savannah, Ga., is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday.

There is some question as to his guilt (even the 
pope has weighed in on this case), but the odds 
of Mr. Davis escaping the death penalty are very 
slim. Putting someone to death whose guilt is 
uncertain is always perverted, but there’s an 
extra dose of perversion in this case.

The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to 
make a decision on whether to hear a last-ditch 
appeal by Mr. Davis on Sept. 29. That’s six days 
after the state of Georgia plans to kill him.

Mr. Davis’s lawyers have tried desperately to 
have the execution postponed for those few days, 
but so far to no avail. Georgia is among the most 
cold-blooded of states when it comes to dispatching prisoners into eternity.

So the lawyers are now trying to get the Supreme 
Court to issue a stay, or decide before Tuesday 
on whether it will consider the appeal.

No one anywhere would benefit from killing Mr. 
Davis on Tuesday, as opposed to waiting a week to 
see how the Supreme Court rules. So why the rush? 
The murder happened in 1989, and Mr. Davis has 
been on death row for 17 years. Six or seven more days will hardly matter.

Most of the time, the court declines to hear such cases.

If that’s the decision this time, Georgia can get 
on with the dirty business of taking a human 
life. If the court agrees to hear the appeal, it 
would have an opportunity to get a little closer 
to the truth of what actually happened on the 
terrible night of Aug. 19, 1989, when Officer Mark Allen MacPhail was murdered.

He was shot as he went to the aid of a homeless 
man who was being pistol-whipped in the parking lot.

Nine witnesses testified against Mr. Davis at his 
trial in 1991, but seven of the nine have since 
changed their stories. One of the recanting 
witnesses, Dorothy Ferrell, said she was on 
parole when she testified and was afraid that 
she’d be sent back to prison if she didn’t agree to finger Mr. Davis.

She said in an affidavit: “I told the detective 
that Troy Davis was the shooter, even though the 
truth was that I didn’t know who shot the officer.”

Another witness, Darrell Collins, a teenager at 
the time of the murder, said the police had 
“scared” him into falsely testifying by 
threatening to charge him as an accessory to the 
crime. He said they told him that he might never get out of prison.

“I didn’t want to go to jail because I didn’t do nothing wrong,” he said.

At least three witnesses who testified against 
Mr. Davis (and a number of others who were not 
part of the trial) have since said that a man 
named Sylvester “Redd” Coles admitted that he was 
the one who had killed the officer.

Mr. Coles, who was at the scene, and who, 
according to authorities, later ditched a gun of 
the same caliber as the murder weapon, is one of 
the two witnesses who have not recanted.

The other is a man who initially told 
investigators that he could not identify the 
killer. Nearly two years later, at the trial, he 
testified that the killer was Mr. Davis.

So we have here a mess that is difficult, perhaps 
impossible, to sort through in a way that will 
yield reliable answers. (The jury also convicted 
Mr. Davis of a nonfatal shooting earlier that 
same evening on testimony that was even more dubious.)

There was no physical evidence against Mr. Davis, 
and the murder weapon was never found. As for the 
witnesses, their testimony was obviously shaky in 
the extreme — not the sort of evidence you want 
to rely upon when putting someone to death.

In March, the State Supreme Court in Georgia, in 
a 4-to-3 decision, denied Mr. Davis’s request for 
a new trial. The chief justice, Leah Ward Sears, 
writing for the minority, said: “In this case, 
nearly every witness who identified Davis as the 
shooter at trial has now disclaimed his or her ability to do so reliably.”

Amnesty International conducted an extensive 
examination of the case, documenting the many 
recantations, inconsistencies, contradictions and 
unanswered questions. Its report on the case drew 
widespread attention, both in the U.S. and overseas.

William Sessions, a former director of the 
F.B.I., has said that a closer look at the case 
is warranted. And Pope Benedict XVI has urged 
authorities in Georgia to re-sentence Mr. Davis to life in prison.

Rushing to execute Mr. Davis on Tuesday makes no sense at all.

Freedom Archives
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San Francisco, CA 94110

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