Commentary: Justice for Troy Davis

Commentary: Justice for Troy Davis

A clarion call to save Troy Davis.

Published September 21, 2011

Today is an ominous day of reckoning for the State of Georgia’s judicial system. Very shortly, Georgia will have to decide the fate of Savannah native Troy Davis, who currently awaits his death by lethal injection courtesy of the Georgia Department of Correction.


Davis was convicted of murdering officer Mark MacPhail at a local Burger King and sentenced to death in 1991. Davis has maintained his innocence of the crime from day one. He and his team of dedicated lawyers have been fighting to save his life ever since his conviction. On Tuesday, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied Davis clemency, dashing yet another chance at staying his execution.  


The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles decision flies in the face of a promise it made in 2007. At that time the board said that it would not allow Davis’ execution to take place unless there was “no doubt as to the guilt of the accused.” I don’t know what the members of the board constitute as “doubt” but in the eyes of the world this case is saturated with doubt.


Consider the fact that all but two of the state’s non-police witnesses have either recanted or contradicted their testimony concerning Davis' guilt. Many of the witnesses who have recanted their testimony have sworn affidavits stating they were pressured by the police into testifying to Davis' guilt.  It’s also interesting to note that one of the two witnesses who refused to recant their testimony is Slyvester “Red” Coles, the man witnesses alleged killed MacPhail.  So far nine of the witnesses involved have signed affidavits that implicate Coles in the case. But all of this evidence apparently fell on deaf ears. Given Georgia’s torrid history of racism, plus the fact that Davis is African-American and the victim and MacPhail was white, one can’t help but wonder what role race played in the board’s recent decision.       


Despite this newfound evidence that casts a huge shadow of doubt on the guilt of Davis, he still awaits execution. Despite the fact that millions of people have signed petitions asking for clemency for Davis, the state of Georgia plans to kill him. It doesn’t matter that among the millions of people who support clemency for Davis are former congressmen Bob Barr, former Texas Gov.  Bob White and William Sessions, who is a former FBI director, a former federal prosecutor and a federal judge. In addition, three of the jurors who help convict Davis have also come forward to show support for clemency for Davis.  Now Davis’ only hope for his life to be spared rests in the hands of The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to reconsider its unjust decision, and the Chatham County (Savannah) District Attorney Larry Chisholm to seek a withdrawal of the death penalty and ask for clemency. Georgia’s Republican Gov. Nathan Deal should step in and grant Davis a stay, also.  As citizens of good will we should demand that the Georgia Board of Pardon and Paroles grant Troy Davis clemency now!


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Written by Charlie Braxton


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