[Ppnews] A Death Row visit with Troy Davis

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Sep 22 13:48:22 EDT 2008

Patrick Dyer is a Campaign to End the Death 
Penalty (CEDP) activist  and teaches at Kennesaw 
State University in Georgia.  When the CEDP send 
Illinois’ first exonerated prisoner to Atlanta 
for Troy’s demonstration on Sept 11th, Patrick 
arranged to have Darby come and speak to students 
at his University.  Darby, as always, was pointed 
and powerful with his remarks and urged students 
to get involved to end the death penalty.

     Yesterday Patrick was able to visit Troy 
Davis and he gives tells us of this visit 
below.  Please feel free to post this far and 
wide — it is both heartfelt and somber.

Following is the school newspapers report of Darby’s visit to the University.


Patrick can be reached at: patrickdyer3 at gmail.com

A Death Row visit with Troy A. Davis

Sunday September 21, 2008
By Patrick Dyer

Today I visited Troy Anthony Davis on Georgia's 
death row, a little over 48 hours before the 
state plans to put him to death for a crime he 
didn't commit. As I traveled the highway, through 
the red clay and green pine trees of Georgia this 
mild autumn Sunday morning listening to Bob 
Marley, I pondered what it might be like as an 
innocent man facing an execution in two days. 
Soon enough I arrived at the front wall of the 
Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison, 
located in Butts County, GA. The scenery just 
inside the front gate on Prison Boulevard, with 
pond, trees, flowers, and chirping birds belies 
the heinousness of what lies at the end of the 
road - a massive penitentiary housing the state's 
death chamber for it's ritual execution of prisoners.

After parking, I stood outside the entrance area 
with a small group of people who were waiting to 
visit other prisoners. One of those waiting 
referred me to the sign-in sheet, then added, 
"they'll get you when they feel like it". While I 
waited for the next 20 minutes I conversed with 
the group awaiting entrance, all of them upset 
and shocked that Troy was denied clemency. Biding 
my time, I stared at the words "wisdom", 
"justice", and "moderation" etched on Georgia's state seal.

One of the first couple of his visitors to 
arrive, I met Troy Davis for the first time. 
Thanks to the relentless campaign waged by Troy, 
his family, and supporters, the name Troy Davis 
is known around the planet. Yet the person I met 
was humble and down-to-earth, quick to begin 
talking about the help that other death row 
prisoners need. Troy struck me immediately as a 
warm and compassionate person. He spent almost as 
much time talking about the injustice of other 
cases as he did about his own, repeatedly saying 
"this is much larger than Troy Davis."

Troy told me that he wanted me to tell people 
that it's time to say "enough is enough!" and to 
"demand a complete change in the system". We 
talked about all the support he has on the 
outside, with people around the world fighting 
for his life. Troy then spent time talking about 
some of the many injustices of his case, a legal 
lynching to be sure. He said that he, like so 
many others stuck on death row, were legally 
incapacitated by "procedural defaults" from their 
attorneys, many of them the fault of the Georgia 
Resource Center. Once an attorney with his legal 
team returned to court after lunch so intoxicated 
that her eyes were bloodshot and she reeked of alcohol.

At his habeas hearing held in a prison 
shack-turned-into-a-courtroom just off death row, 
Troy anxiously awaited the arrival of his family, 
who had spent their own money to rent vans to 
transport witnesses from Savannah. But as Troy 
walked into the shack-courtroom, his attorney was 
saying that neither his family nor his witnesses 
would be allowed to appear, given that it was 
"too expensive" to transport the witnesses.

By the time effective legal counsel got on board 
with his defense, Troy's case was too far gone. 
In fact, one attorney with his private 
Washington, DC law firm told him that had they 
gotten the case five years earlier, Troy would be home by now.

"And even if none of those witnesses recanted", 
Troy emphasized with his southern drawl as he 
leaned closer to me, "my fingerprints still don't match".

Troy also gave his analysis of why the Parole 
Board refused to grant clemency. Given that the 
board, appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue, is stacked 
with "ex"-law enforcement and prosecution types, 
it's no surprise. "The police and prosecution 
tactics used in my case are the same ones they 
used and that are used all over. If they stop my 
execution because of the police interrogation 
methods and prosecutor misconduct, it exposes their entire system."

Over the course of the next hour, Troy's mother, 
sisters, brother, niece, nephew, and numerous 
supporters joined us in the caged visiting room. 
The six hour visitation flew by with a positive 
atmosphere of love and support. Most of the time 
was spent laughing, joking, and telling family 
stories that included childhood nicknames, 
teenage dating escapades, high school prom dates, and more.

Eventually visiting hours wound down, and Troy 
was handcuffed then taken inside the entrance to 
one of the prison corridors, where we were 
allowed to join him for photographs. As a fellow 
prisoner snapped pictures, Troy arranged 
different combinations of his family and 
supporters for each picture, as prison guards observed from the perimeter.

When the photo session ended, it was time for us 
to hug Troy goodbye. In a stirring and 
emotion-packed series of hugs, we all took turns 
saying goodbye. Two prisoners began printing the 
pictures as guards led Troy away. "Troy is such a 
good guy" one of them commented while we waited. 
Then suddenly someone yelled, "He's waving", and 
family members all strained to look through the 
prison bars down the long hallway to death row, 
seeing Troy's smiling face as his handcuffed hands waved goodbye.

Official Student Newspaper of Kennesaw State University
Written by Dominique Richmond, Staff Writer

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

With the execution date for Troy Davis nearing, 
Darby Tillis made a guest appearance at KSU. He 
told his story of how he was exonerated in 1987 
after spending nine years on death row, to a room 
full of First-Year Seminar students.

Tillis rode a Greyhound bus for 21 hours from 
Chicago in order to support the ‘Rally to Save 
Troy Davis’ at the Georgia State Capital, 
sponsored by Amnesty International and the NAACP, 
held on Sept. 11. Davis is a man on Georgia’s 
death row who was given an execution date of Sept. 23.

After serving two years, Tillis was convicted on 
Oct. 15, 1979 of murdering two men. Although 
there was never any evidence that linked him to 
those killings, he was imprisoned, tried and 
sentenced to death. It took not one, but five 
trials to set him free. Three of the trials ended 
in a hung jury, one was guilty and the last one set him free.

A self-proclaimed "urban guerilla street 
preacher," Tillis sang and smiled as he told the 
students how he was just "a number on a legal 
brief." He talked about the joy of living and how 
he wants to build a better system to eliminate 
the killings of death row inmates. "Realize that 
we have a system that is far from good and go 
after change and make changes," said Tillis.

When asked what would he like the students to 
learn from his lecture, his response was, "look 
deep into the justice system; look at the flaws. 
The death penalty makes no purpose; take a stand and make it better."

When asked what would he like the students to 
learn from his lecture, his response was, "look 
deep into the justice system; look at the flaws. 
The death penalty makes no purpose; take a stand and make it better."

Patrick Dyer, professor of the 1101 class, said, 
"I hope that the students who attended will think 
about the role of capital punishment in society, 
and critically examine this practice."

Tillis was the first to be exonerated; since then 
at least 129 innocent people have walked off of death row.

According to Dyer, this topic relates to one of 
KSU 1101’s major learning objectives--that of 
developing the foundations for global learning. 
As part of global learning, the class engages in 
educational discussion on ethics,
leaders hip, citizenship, global perspectives, 
diversity, inclusiveness and critical thinking.

Dyer said, "Since Tillis had a couple of hours 
free Thursday morning, we scrambled to arrange for him to speak at KSU."

Immediately after his talk, Tillis was shuttled 
downtown to be part of a contingent that hand 
delivered over 23,000 petition signatures to the 
Board of Pardons and Parole, asking that Troy Davis not be executed.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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