Georgia’s High Court Refuses to Spare Troy Davis’ Life

Georgia’s High Court Refuses to Spare Troy Davis’ Life

Published September 23, 2008

Posted Sept. 23, 2008 – With the world watching, Troy Anthony Davis’ is being dealt a classic case of Georgia justice.

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As the hours and minutes tick away, the 39-year-old Black man from Savannah moves closer to the death chamber, where, at 7 tonight, a potentially innocent man will be strapped to a gurney and injected with a lethal cocktail. On Monday, one of Davis’ last hopes to remain alive fizzled in the hands of Georgia’s Supreme Court. Justice Robert Benham was the lone dissenter in wanting to spare the life of Davis, who was convicted in 1991 of killing Mark Allen McPhail, a 27-year-old Savannah Police officer.

“Troy Anthony Davis is an innocent man and Georgia is on watch by the world,” Edward DuBose, president of the Georgia state conference of the NAACP, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This is a modern-day lynching if it’s allowed to go forward.” DuBose is asking that Davis’ death sentence be changed to life in prison.

In the years since Davis was sentenced to death, many of the prosecution’s key witnesses have recanted their testimonies. But that is of little consequence since Davis has been unable to acquire a new trial, which supporters say would provide a forum to showcase just how flimsy the state’s case is against him. That doesn’t mean that nobody has been paying attention to the way the United States – and Georgia, in particular – metes out justice. The Georgia Pardons and Parole Board, which is standing pat on Davis’ execution, has been avalanched by more than 4,000 letters urging it to halt the state-sanctioned killing of what many believe is an innocent man. Among those letters are pleas from such luminaries as South African Nobel Peace Prize-winner Desmond Tutu, Amnesty International’s U.S. Director Larry Cox, Pope Benedict XVI, former President Jimmy Carter, ex-Georgia Republican Congressman Bill Barr, singer-actor-activist Harry Belafonte, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Sister Helen Prejean and former FBI Director William Sessions.

Davis’ last legal hope rests with the U.S. Supreme Court. But Davis’ sympathizers are hoping that everyone with a role in carrying out the execution – including prison officials and medical staff – to take today off from work. “We call for a general strike or ‘sick-out’ by all but a skeleton staff,” Sara Totonchi, chairwoman of Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said outside the Capitol Monday. “If you work on that day, you will enable the prison to carry out the execution of an innocent man.” 

But for McPhail’s family and Georgia state officials, sympathy for Davis is misguided. A year ago, the state Board of Pardons and Paroles stayed Davis’ execution with just hours to spare. When board members decided on Monday it was time to bring this chapter to a close, the agreed with prosecutors who say that Davis is definitely a cop killer.  

Board spokeswoman Scheree Lipscomb noted that members gave a full hearing to Davis as well as to all of the witnesses offered up by his defense team. “After an exhaustive review of all available information regarding the Troy Davis case and after considering all possible reasons for granting clemency, the board has determined that clemency is not warranted,” Lipscomb said. 

However, Pastor Ralph Warnock, of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, told the Journal-Constitution that Georgia was getting ready to make a grave mistake. “Justice and due process deserve a real chance in Georgia,” Warnock said. “If you execute an innocent man, you will irretrievably err and leave the blood of Troy Davis on all of our hands.”

CLICK HERE if you’d like to get involved in efforts to spare Davis’ life.


Written by BET-Staff


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