Thursday, June 07, 2007

Revisiting the case of Troy Anthony Davis

We've blogged before on the case of Troy Anthony Davis, the Georgia man who faces execution despite holes in his case large enough to swallow up an SUV.

Now it appears we're going to be talking about Davis a lot more.

The U.S. Supreme Court has set Troy's case for conference on June 21. This means on that day, the high court will decide whether to formally accept his case for review. Keep in mind that the court declines to accept something like 99 percent of the cases that reach it on appeal.

This is Troy's final appeal. Assuming he loses, then the only hope he would have of avoiding execution would be a recommendation from the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles for clemency.

Over at Amnesty International's blog, Tennessee Dude has blogged today about Troy's case today. Rather than reinvent the wheel, we're just going to borrow Tennessee Dude's blog entry and make it our own:

Death Penalty
procedure trumps justice...again...this time for troy davis...

from the diaries of the tennessee dude...

we've blogged about it before...all sorts of people succumb to it...reasonable people may refer to it as "sentence fatigue"...angry people may say that enough is enough already...just plain mean-spirited people may simply drive around screaming, "fry that m__________ f____________,"...

i refer to it as procedure being more important than substance...finality being more important than truth in justice...just one more scenario in which we, collectively, share the warm and fuzzy opportunity to kill an innocent man (and yes, that's ironic sarcasm right there)...

this time i'm referring to the case of troy davis in which my home state of georgia is on the verge of poisoning to death a young man where no physical evidence ever linked him to the murder for which he was convicted and all but 2 so-called eyewitnesses have recanted their testimony:

Darrell Collins: "[The police] were telling me that I was an accessory to murder and that I would ... go to jail for a long time and I would be lucky if I ever got out, especially because a police officer got killed...I was only sixteen and was so scared of going to jail."

Antoine Williams: "After the officers talked to me, they gave me a statement and told me to sign it. I signed it. I did not read it because I cannot read ... I was totally unsure whether he was the person who shot the officer. I felt pressured to point at him ... I have no idea what the person who shot the officer looks like."

Jeffrey Sapp: "The police came and talked to me and put a lot of pressure on me.... They wanted me to tell them that Troy confessed to me about killing that officer. The thing is, Troy never told me anything about it. I got tired of them harassing me .... I told them that Troy did it, but it wasn't true."

Daniel Kinsman: "[T]here was and is no doubt in my mind that the person who shot the officer had the gun in and was shooting with his left hand." Davis is right-handed.

Shirley Riley: "People on the streets were talking about Sylvester Coles being involved with killing the police officer, so one day I asked him if he was involved .... Sylvester told me he did shoot the officer."

Joseph Washington: "I am positive that it was Red [Coles] who shot the police officer... [He] was wearing a white shirt...I had no idea that the shirt...was important because no one ever asked me...I would have testified to this but I was not asked by the state or by Troy's lawyers."

and of those witnesses who have not recanted??? well, one "witness" has been implicated as the murderer by nine people while the other could only recall the color of the shooter's clothes...and as we often respond to questions about how this execution could come to be, death penalty appeals are very difficult and no court has reviewed all the new evidence that came out since his initial trial...

restrictions on federal appeals have prevented troy anthony davis from having a hearing in federal court on the reliability of the witness testimony used against him, despite the fact that most of the witnesses have since recanted, many alleging they were pressured or coerced by police...troy davis remains on georgia death row, and may be scheduled for execution as early as next month...

for the brief back story...troy davis was sentenced to death for the murder of police officer mark allen mcphail at a burger king in savannah, georgia; a murder he maintains he did not commit...there was no physical evidence against him and the weapon used in the crime was never found...the case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial...since then, all but three of the state's non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted their testimony...many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against troy davis (see above)...
for further details in the back story and its context read Where is the justice for me?: The case of Troy Davis, facing execution in Georgia...

but we need YOU to TAKE ACTION TODAY...

troy's best chance at survival through this heresy of "justice" is clemency - please click here to print out a letter to the parole board in georgia and mail it today! - please forward the link to your friends, associates and broad network and ask them to do the same...this is critical...
the blogosphere may be able to generate enough attention to this moral and ethical outrage but only if you choose to make it today - and i'm only asking this today - rather than downloading a funny youtube video and sharing it please share this, please organize as many appeals as you can...if you can organize a petition, collecting signatures supporting clemency for troy davis to send to the Board, please do so to

State Board of Pardons and Paroles
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE
Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909
USA Fax: +1 404 651 8502

My note: We'll have some more developments to report on regarding this case as the summer progresses. But I'd like to close simply by saying that both opponents and proponents of the death penalty should be able to reach consensus on one thing: Executing a person when fundamental questions about his guilt have been raised -- but not reviewed -- is a practice that is every bit abominable as what took place in Stalinist Russia, Saddam Husseinist Iraq, Osama bin Ladenist Afghanistan, and on and on and on.

This will not stand. Not in our country. Not in my country.


Anonymous said...

sweeeeeeeet - passion!

Anonymous said...

I'm touched by this case. Stay strong Troy. One day, it may be in 5 years from now, it may not be for 50 or 100 years, but one day the United States will see that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, and unjustifiable state-sanctioned murder will be put to an end once and for all.

The death penalty is inhumane, violates the fundamental right to life, and has no deterrent effect. But most tragically it is irreversible; an innocent man can be released from prison, but not brought back from the dead.

This scares me. There is evidence to suggest Troy's innocence, yet not only does he find himself on death row, he is unable to present this evidence due to legal technicalities.

These evidence laws are madness. Roger Keith Coleman (executed in Virginia in 1992) filed an appeal 33 days after a ruling. It had to be done within 30 days according to Virginia law, and as a result his defence attorneys were unable to introduce new evidence to the case, evidence that his initial defence counsel failed to introduce as they were court-appointed, and frankly useless ('ineffective counsel' to be more politically correct).

Then there was Clarence Hill in Florida, also prevented from introducting new evidence under a similar law.

Surely if an appeal is worth hearing it shouldn't matter when it was filed. If an argument's worth hearing, then a technicality shouldn't get in the way, especially if someone's life is on the line. It's messed up.

Stay strong Troy. I'm thinking of you.

Anonymous said...

Uhhhhhh, Jim, didn't you get the memo, Roger Coleman was a lying murderer. The state got that one right.

Clarence Hill was guilty as sin.

And what's up with the "Stay strong Troy". The faux authenticity is pretty lame.

Anonymous said...

16 Nobel Prize Laureates Appeal to the Italian Government with a urgent and immediate goal: ensuring the resolution for the universal moratorium is presented to the current General Assembly, despite new international events that might in fact jeopardise it.
Sign online here:
At midnight on April 16, Marco Pannella's non-violent initiative (that started on March 21) turned into an indefinite hunger strike. Sergio D'Elia, Valter Vecellio, Guido Biancardi, Lucio Bertè and Claudia Sterzi are also joining the fight in such an important phase. Our goal is to prevent the universal moratorium on the death penalty from being postponed to next year, as has happened for the past 13 years.
This fight is absolutely necessary and very urgent, as the moratorium is on the verge of being jeopardised, even abandoned. The moratorium is an objective very dear to the Radicals, especially Hands Off Cain and the Transnational Radical Party. The moratorium was initially embraced by the Italian Parliament. Later, a solemn commitment was made by the Italian Government on January 2, 2007, which was then supported by the European Parliament as well, and with an extraordinary majority.
Parliaments, Governments and a strong popular opinion were all moved into action by the "scandalous" execution of Saddam Hussein. The urgent and immediate goal: ensuring the resolution for the universal moratorium is presented to the current General Assembly, despite new international events that might in fact jeopardise it.
This is what is being discussed on a daily basis. Errors and delays have certainly taken place but it is still possible that they can be overcome and the moratorium will finally be achieved.
The alternative to our non-violent initiative is to accept yet another indefinite postponement, or a betrayal such as the one we received in 1999. We were recently reminded of this episode by Francesco Paolo Fulci, the influential Italian Ambassador to the UN at the time. The UN was given the order "from Brussels" to withdraw the resolution for the moratorium, a resolution that had already been submitted and had the certainty of being approved.
As people who believe in non-violent means, we have specific responsibilities and we will help our Government to reach the goal set by the Parliament, and later embraced by the Government itself. We are incited to act by the hope and the certainty that non-violence is the most effective tool to support the Government to fulfil the commitments it has made.

Anonymous said...

Let us not forget ALL the victims in death penalty cases. I feel that as if I am one of them, my name is Sedley David Alley and my father was executed by the state of Tennessee, so please when everybody is discussing victims least not forget the condemed’s family. I grew up without a mother or a father, even though my father may have done unspeakable things to good poeple, I miss him, and hurt everyday for the loss of family members, you know growing up my father stayed in contact with me, the whole time he wrote letters with love and sent them seeking my forgiveness, I forgave him along time ago and we began building a relationship, this was recently torn from me and has helped make me relize the goodness and hate of this world.