Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Amnesty International USA and the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: Wende Gozan at 212/633-4247
Tuesday, July 10, 2007 or David Elliot at 202-331-4090


(Atlanta) -- In the run-up to the scheduled execution of Troy Anthony Davis, and as Amnesty International holds a press conference calling for his clemency Tuesday morning, religious leaders, members of Congress, entertainers and civil and human rights leaders have written letters to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to ask that its members look at the Davis case with fresh eyes. Nobel-prize winner Rev. Desmond Tutu, singer Harry Belafonte, actor Mike Farrell, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Sister Helen Prejean, Sam D. Millsap, Jr. (former D.A. of Bexar County, TX), record producer and activist Russell Simmons and Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation are among those who have voiced support for clemency.

"The facts with which the jury was presented nearly 16 years ago have fallen into considerable doubt," said Irene Khan, London-based secretary general of Amnesty International. "To allow this execution to proceed would be to knowingly countenance an irrevocable injustice."

In total, thousands of concerned individuals -- from across Georgia, the United States and around the world -- have sent letters calling for clemency for Davis. Following the Tuesday press conference, Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) and the Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery will deliver to the Parole Board approximately 4,000 letters and postcards that add to the several thousand that have already been sent.

"Certain cases are emblematic of the dysfunctional application of justice in this country; the case of Troy Davis is one of them," said Cox. "There is ample evidence to show that Davis may not have perpetrated the crimes for which he may lose his life. Georgia's Parole Board needs to give this serious consideration and decide whether it is worth even the possibility of killing an innocent man."

Troy Anthony Davis, who is African American, was convicted in 1991 of murdering Mark McPhail, a white police officer. Davis' conviction was not based on any physical evidence, and the murder weapon was never found. The prosecution based its case on the testimony of purported "witnesses," many of whom allege police coercion. Seven of the nine non-police witnesses for the prosecution have recanted or contradicted their testimony in sworn affidavits; nine witnesses have implicated another man in the murder.

Despite this, Davis' habeas corpus petition was denied by the state court on a technicality -- evidence of police coercion was "procedurally defaulted," so the court refused to hear it. Davis is now out of legal appeals. His clemency hearing is scheduled for Monday, July 16; his execution is set for Tuesday, July 17, at 7:00 p.m.

"This case is a reminder that the death penalty system is fraught with error," said Diann Rust-Tierney, executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, which has joined AIUSA in a national and international campaign on Davis' behalf. "Executive clemency exists when courts cannot or will not provide justice. We must not allow an execution to proceed when substantial doubt exists as to guilt or innocence."

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For more information, visit www.amnestyusa.org/troydavis or http://www.ncadp.org/.


Anonymous said...

Given that Sheila Jackson Lee thought that American astronauts landed on Mars, why should we take anything that she has to say seriously.

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