[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
Whats 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 theres 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. Thats six days
after the state of Georgia plans to kill him.
Mr. Daviss 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 thats 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
shed be sent back to prison if she didnt 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 didnt 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 didnt want to go to jail because I didnt 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. Daviss 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.
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