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June 25, 2007

Supreme Court's Death Penalty Ruling in Troy Davis Case Reveals 'Catastrophic Flaws in the U.S. Death Penalty Machine'

(Washington, D.C.) -- Amnesty International is deeply disappointed with today's Supreme Court ruling that permits the execution of Troy Anthony Davis in Georgia. The organization maintains that evidence in his favor, which has never been heard in a courtroom, is enough to demonstrate that Davis should be granted a new hearing.

"The Supreme Court decision is proof-positive that justice truly is blind -- blind to coerced and recanted testimony, blind to the lack of a murder weapon or physical evidence and blind to the extremely dubious circumstances that led to this man's conviction," said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). "At times there are cases that are emblematic of the dysfunctional application of justice in this country. By refusing to review serious claims of innocence, the Supreme Court has revealed catastrophic flaws in the U.S. death penalty machine."

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 their testimony in sworn affidavits. One witness signed a police statement declaring that Davis was the assailant, then later said, "I did not read it because I cannot read." In another case a witness stated that 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 16 and was so scared of going to jail."

There are also several witnesses who have implicated another man in the murder. According to one woman, "People on the streets were talking about Sylvester Coles being involved with killing the police officer, so one day I asked him ... Sylvester told me that he did shoot the officer."

Despite this, Davis' habeas corpus petition was denied by the state court on a technicality -- evidence of police coercion was "procedurally defaulted," that is, not raised earlier, so the court refused to hear it. The Georgia Supreme Court and 11th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals deferred to the state court and rejected Davis' claims. Today the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his case and Davis is now left without any legal recourse; he could be executed within weeks. It is shocking that in more than 12 years of appeals, no court has agreed to hear evidence of police coercion or consider the recanted testimony.

"It is appalling that so many judges were able to look away from such a grave breach of justice. Evidence of innocence simply hasn't mattered," said Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn, director of AIUSA's Program to Abolish the Death Penalty. "This should be viewed as a day of great shame for our nation, one in which the green light was given to execute a citizen who may well be innocent."
Original Post
please appeal for clemency for Troy Davis

In Georgia, the clemency authority is the State Board of Pardons and Paroles. In its annual report of 2005, the Board describes its task thus:

"The Parole Board has the sole constitutional authority to reduce capital punishment cases to a sentence of life or life without parole. Once a death row inmate exhausts his judicial appeals an execution date is set. At that time, the condemned inmate can request an appointment before the Board to ask for executive clemency. Prior to the appointment, the Board staff compiles an exhaustive set of reports about the circumstances of the offense, criminal history and life of the condemned inmate. Each Board member reviews the file and the appointment is scheduled to allow those in favour of clemency to appear before the entire Board. Usually the appointment is attended by the inmate's attorneys, family or friends. The condemned inmate does not attend the appointment. At the conclusion of the appointment, Board members each cast a confidential vote on the request to commute the death sentence. A majority of three affirmative votes is required to commute a death sentence."(61)

Since executions resumed in the USA in January 1977, 39 prisoners have been put to death in Georgia (by 1 February 2007). In the same period, six prisoners have been granted clemency.(62)

Recommendations for appeals

Using the information in this report, please write to the Georgia parole board, in your own words, to seek clemency for Troy Davis. If possible, write a separate appeal to each of the individual Board members. If you can only write one appeal, please send it to the Chairperson. Please write in English. We recommend that your appeals be no more than two pages in length. The following is a guide only:

Ø explaining that you are not seeking to condone the murder of Officer Mark Allen McPhail, or to downplay the seriousness of the crime or the suffering caused;
Ø explaining that you are writing to seek clemency for Troy Anthony Davis, whose judicial appeals are almost exhausted;
Ø noting that almost all of the witnesses who testimony was used against Troy Davis at his trial have since recanted or contradicted their trial testimony;
Ø noting the large number of wrongful convictions in capital cases that have been uncovered in the USA since 1976;
Ø noting that unreliability of witness testimony has been one of the contributing factors in numerous of these cases;
Ø expressing concern that Troy Davis has not had a hearing in federal court on the reliability of the witness testimony used against him at trial;
Ø noting that the power of clemency in capital cases exists as a failsafe against irreversible error that the courts have been unable or unwilling to remedy;
Ø noting that numerous death row inmates whose judicial appeals have been exhausted have received clemency since 1977 in the USA on the grounds of doubts about their guilt (see footnote 57);
Ø calling on the Board to commute the death sentence of Troy Davis.Board members

- Garland R. Hunt, Esq. (Chairperson)
- L. Gale Buckner (Vice Chair)
- Garfield Hammonds, Jr.
- Robert E. Keller
- Milton E. Nix, Jr.


State Board of Pardons and Paroles
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE
Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909
Fax: +1 404 651 8502
Salutation, as appropriate: Dear Chairperson Hunt / Vice Chair Buckner / Board Member Hammonds, Keller, Nix

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. Please check with the AI Section in your country or the International Secretariat, if sending appeals after 30 June 2007.
Man convicted of killing officer in 1989 set to die

The Associated Press - ATLANTA
A man convicted of killing a Savannah police officer in 1989 will be executed July 17, the Department of Corrections said Friday.

The execution date was set after a Chatham County Superior Court judge signed Troy Anthony Davis' death warrant.

Davis, 38, is on death row for the Aug. 19, 1989, shooting death of Savannah police officer Mark Allen McPhail, who was killed while responding to an altercation.

Court records say Davis shot into a car in a Savannah subdivision and struck a man in the head, severely injuring him. A few hours later, court records say, he struck another man in the head with a gun in a Savannah parking lot, where he soon encountered the officer.

Human rights groups have challenged Davis' conviction, citing race issues and witnesses who have recanted their testimony in the case.

One group, Amnesty International, said in a statement earlier this week that it believes Davis should be granted a new hearing by the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused on Monday to hear Davis' latest appeal.

The group said that Davis, who is black, was convicted of killing McPhail, who is white, without any physical evidence.

Amnesty International also says several witnesses have implicated another man in the murder.

Previous appeals by Davis have failed.

Davis' execution would be the second in Georgia this year. John Hightower was given a lethal injection on Tuesday for killing his wife and two stepdaughters in Milledgeville in 1987.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Davis Execution
Man convicted of killing officer set for clemency hearing

Thursday, Jul 05, 2007 - 04:56 PM
ATLANTA (AP) - A clemency hearing has been scheduled for a man who is set to be executed for the murder of a Savannah police officer amid continued claims by human rights advocates that he may be innocent.

A lawyer for 38-year-old Troy Davis will tell the state Board of Pardons and Paroles on July 16th why his client's life should be spared.

Absent a reprieve or a successful last-minute court challenge, Davis will be given a lethal injection the next day at the state prison in Jackson. He would be the second person the state has put to death so far this year.

Ahead of the hearing, Amnesty International and other Davis supporters plan a news conference Tuesday outside the building housing the parole board to explain why they believe Davis may be innocent of the Augusst 19th, 1989 murder of Officer Mark MacPhail.

Following the event, the group will deliver to the parole board roughly three-thousand letters and postcards in support of clemency for Davis.

Davis' supporters cite race issues and witnesses who have recanted their testimony in the case. Some of those witnesses are expected to be at the news conference.

Supporters also say Davis, who is black, was convicted of killing MacPhail, who was white, without any physical evidence. They also say several witnesses have implicated another man in the murder.
Supporters of condemned Ga. man seek reprieve as execution nears

Tuesday, Jul 10, 2007 - 01:25 PM
ATLANTA (AP) - Human rights advocates armed with evidence they say has been ignored gathered near the state Board of Pardons and Paroles office in Atlanta today to ask the panel to spare the life of a convicted cop killer set to be executed next week.

A clemency hearing won't be held until Monday, but Troy Davis' supporters say they wanted the board to have the 4,000 letters written by people from around the world who believe Davis deserves a reprieve.

The 38-year-old Davis will be put to death by lethal injection on July 17th at the state prison in Jackson, absent a reprieve or a successful last-minute court appeal.

The executive director of Amnesty International USA, Larry Cox, told reporters at a news conference that the death penalty is "a runaway train."

Davis' attorneys say they have new evidence that another man, Sylvester Coles, killed Savannah police Officer Mark MacPhail on August 19th, 1989. They say they have affidavits from three new witnesses showing Coles was the shooter, not Davis.

Supporters also say several witnesses against Davis at his trial have since recanted their testimony. They want the parole board to commute Davis' death sentence to life in prison, and ultimately they are seeking a new trial for Davis.

In a telephone interview with The Associated Press from prison on Monday, Davis said he's certain Coles was the killer, though he acknowledged he never made that claim at his trial.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
Inmate granted 90-day stay of execution
Mon Jul 16, 2007 9:12PM EDT

ATLANTA (Reuters) - The Georgia parole board on Monday granted a 90-day stay of execution for a convicted police killer whose case had drawn pleas for clemency amid claims he might not be guilty.

Troy Davis, 38, was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Tuesday. A statement posted on the State Board of Pardons and Paroles' Web site late on Monday said the panel voted to temporarily halt the execution to evaluate evidence presented after a daylong clemency hearing.

Davis was convicted of killing police officer Mark McPhail in the parking lot of a Burger King restaurant in Savannah, Georgia, in 1989.

In recent days, supporters of Davis had urged the parole board to spare his life, citing indications he may not have committed the murder. Campaigners including Amnesty International and South African Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu had argued Davis could be innocent.

No DNA evidence linked Davis to the crime, no murder weapon was found and seven of nine witnesses central to the prosecution case have recanted or changed their testimony, according to activists.

Some witnesses have said they testified under duress and other witnesses have identified another man they said was the murderer, Davis' lawyers said.

Among those supporting the plea of clemency for Davis at Monday's hearing before the parole board were U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat.

© Reuters 2006. All rights reserved.

July 17, 2007

Amnesty International Applauds Stay of Execution for Troy Davis

(Atlanta) -- Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) applauded today's decision by the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant a 90-day stay of execution to Troy Anthony Davis, who has spent 15 years on death row for a murder that he denies committing. Davis, 38, was convicted despite the lack of a murder weapon or physical evidence linking him to the crime.

"Let today begin a new day for truth and justice in Georgia," said Larry Cox, executive director of AIUSA. "We call upon the Georgia Parole Board to recognize that in the United States, one is innocent until proven guilty -- and in the absence of such proof, there is no acceptable choice but to grant clemency. The Board must recognize the flawed logic of executing a man who may be innocent."

Troy Anthony Davis, who is African American, was convicted in 1991 of murdering Mark MacPhail, a white police officer. 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, and nine people assert that one of the two who hasn't recanted is actually responsible for the murder.

Despite this, Davis' habeas corpus petition was denied by the state court on a technicality -- evidence of police coercion was "procedurally defaulted," that is, not raised earlier, so the court did not take it. The Georgia Supreme Court and 11th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals deferred to the state court and rejected Davis' claims, and earlier this month the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his case.

"We are deeply saddened that the MacPhail family has suffered such pain and hope that today's decision will lead to a fair and earnest search for justice," said Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn, director of AIUSA's Program to Abolish the Death Penalty. "Now that the Board has issued a stay of execution, it is time for authorities to reopen their investigation and seek the truth. Only in that way can society honor the memory of Mark MacPhail."

Amnesty International has long-standing concerns about Troy Davis's case. In February of this year, the organization released a 35-page report, "Where is the Justice for Me? The case of Troy Davis, facing execution in Georgia." In recent weeks the organization has mobilized its worldwide membership and collected thousands of letters calling for clemency for Mr. Davis.
Pope makes plea to spare life of Troy Davis

Letters continue to pour in supporting murder convict; Vatican among clemency supporters

ATLANTA - The state clemency board reviewing the death sentence of Troy Anthony Davis is continuing to receive an unprecedented amount of letters about the case, ranging from Savannah neighbors to international religious leaders.

The Vatican added its support this week for commuting Davis' sentence to life in prison without parole.

A U.S. envoy for Pope Benedict XVI, the leader of 1.1 billion Roman Catholics worldwide, sent a letter urging state officials to consider the special circumstances in the case, specifically that Davis' "conviction was not based on any physical evidence, and the murder weapon was never found."

"The pope continually exhorts all people, and especially those men and women who serve in government, to recognize the sacredness of all human life," wrote Monsignor Martin Krebs. "I reiterate the commitment of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, to uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life, and I hope that you will give heed to his petition."

Krebs' letter was mailed early this week to Gov. Sonny Perdue's office. Staff members there forwarded it to the state Board of Pardons and Paroles to add to its sizable stack of petitions.

Lost authority

The governor's office lost its clemency authority in 1943 during a push to reduce its powers after Gov. Eugene Talmadge's term, according to the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

Now, Georgia is one of only three states in which the governor has no authority to grant clemency.

However, as with any state board, the governor can apply political pressure. The governor appoints board members, and the board is part of the executive branch. Fourteen states place clemency responsibility solely with the governor, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

In Savannah, family and friends were hopeful that a plea from the pope would result in clemency.

"If you are truly doing the right thing, God will open doors for you that no man can," said Nadra Enzi, who has worked with the Davis family, organizing community events. "How often does the pope make statements like this? Hopefully the pope's pleas for mercy will transcend political and racial lines."

A call to Davis' mother, Virginia, was not returned Friday afternoon.

Jason Ewart, an appeal attorney for Davis, said he was upbeat about the pope's involvement.

"I think most people could discern that the pope is against all loss of life. He's an abolitionist when it comes to the death penalty," Ewart said. "But you don't hear his name associated with every death penalty case. I think he came out on this case because it's an example of a needless loss of life."

Review time

Georgia's five-member clemency board on Monday granted Davis a 90-day stay so members can spend more time reviewing his clemency request. Davis had been scheduled to die Tuesday night by lethal injection.

The letter on behalf of the pope is one of thousands that have been filed with the board in recent weeks, including petitions from other well-known people such as South African cleric Desmond Tutu and Sister Helen Prejean, who wrote the book "Dead Man Walking."

Scheree Lipscomb, spokeswoman for the pardons and paroles board, said the agency has received thousands of letters and e-mails, including form letters supplied by Amnesty International through its Web site.

She said she has received 700 messages since the board issued its delay. Lipscomb said letters, whether from the pope or an interested individual, are all treated the same and are put into the case's file. She said she could not comment on the content of letters, including whether some have opposed commuting the death sentence for Davis.

Krebs stated in his letter, which was provided by Perdue's office, that he was conscious of the suffering felt by crime victims' family members and loved ones.

Davis attorney Jason Ewart said he was surprised when he heard the pope had taken an interest in the case as well as the overall response.

"I think it's an overwhelming volume that shows people are concerned about this case," he said. "I think that this thing has a lot of resonance because of the way the court has mistreated the case, in my opinion."
New questions cast doubt on Troy Davis conviction

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 08/05/07 There wasn't much for crime scene analysts to pore over after Savannah police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail was fatally shot in a Burger King parking lot on Aug. 19, 1989.

There were no fingerprints, murder weapons, tire tracks, bloody footprints or other basic clues that help detectives track down killers. Only the bullets extracted from MacPhail and empty shell casings found on the ground provided the tiniest bit of physical evidence.on the testimony of eyewitnesses who identified him as the shooter.

Most of those witnesses have since recanted. And now his defense team, seeking to save him from execution, is challenging the conclusions drawn from the ballistics analysis done in the Davis case. They've hired one of the state's leading firearms experts, who concluded the analysis done soon after the killing was deeply flawed.

The questions they've raised have bought Davis time. Last month, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles temporarily halted his execution, just 24 hours before it was to be carried out. And on Friday, the Georgia Supreme Court granted Davis a rare opportunity to make his case for a new trial.

The state parole board is scheduled to take up Davis' case again Thursday. Parole board members want to hear directly from the witnesses who now say they made up testimony that implicated Davis. And they have asked for new tests on the bullets found at the scene.

Police collected at least 20 bullets and shell casings from two areas the night of MacPhail's murder: the Burger King parking lot where he was killed and a nearby bank, and the site of a pool party where two men were injured in separate drive-by shootings just a short time apart that same night.

Prosecutors believed Davis was responsible for at least one of the shootings at the party and for MacPhail's murder at a Burger King across from the Yamacraw public housing project. A GBI crime analyst linked bullets from all three shootings, concluding they could have come from the same gun, either a .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolver.

During the trial, prosecutor Spencer Lawton told the jury that Davis was carrying a .38 that night and that bullets he fired at the party could be matched with those fired into the body of Officer McPhail.

But Jason Ewart, one of Davis' lawyers, said the evidence doesn't support that conclusion.

"The ballistics do not connect Troy to any crime," he said. Ewart was not Davis' attorney during the trial.

Lawton, the Chatham County district attorney, has not commented publicly on the case. But in court filings, his office dismissed Davis' recent claims as a baseless, last-minute delay tactic.

Roger Parian, director of the GBI crime lab in Savannah at the time, indicated in a report that bullets and empty shell casings found at the different crime scenes were similar, meaning the gun used to kill Officer MacPhail could have been the same one used to shoot Michael Cooper and Sherman Coleman, the two men injured at the pool party earlier.

Davis was in both places that night, although witnesses have said others were at both crime scenes.

Analysis 'wrong at worst'

In a report written for Davis' defense team in 2003 and submitted to the state parole board, retired GBI ballistics expert Kelly Fite concluded that Parian's analysis was "shoddy and questionable at best and patently wrong at worst." Fite concluded his analysis by stating, "As it appears now, the [ballistics] testing already conducted in this case is wholly lacking in reliability."

Fite also notes in his affidavit that Coleman was shot shortly after Cooper at approximately the same time as MacPhail. Fite writes that Parian and the prosecution "conveniently discarded" the timing of events that would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the same weapon to have been used in both crimes.

"At best, the ballistics states that the same people who were at the Cloverdale party were also at Yamacraw . . . area of town later that evening," attorney Ewart said. "Yamacraw was the Wild West back then "” everyone had a gun."

Prosecutors are dismissive.

"[Davis] waited to present this affidavit, based on faulty assumptions, until the eve of his execution solely to thwart justice," Lawton's office wrote in a July 13 court filing seeking to allow Davis' execution to proceed.

Lawton's office also states in the filing that Fite misinterpreted the ballistics report, claiming that Parian linked only the MacPhail and Cooper shootings, not Coleman's.

Fite worked as a firearms examiner for the GBI for 31 years and has provided expert testimony about 2,700 times in state and federal courts throughout the Southeast, according to his résumé. He was Parian's teacher at the GBI. Parian retired in 1999 after 28 years with the state.

"He's been going around the state testifying adamantly against GBI examiners," said Parian, who was reached at his home in Savannah. "Even the ones he trained."

Parian said his only concern at the time was examining the ballistics in the Davis case, and he did not take any timelines into account.

"I knew there was some question about his guilt," Parian said. "That's not for me to decide. I tried to render a ballistics opinion."

Work questioned before

This is not the first time Parian's work has come under question, however.

His testimony in another death-penalty case led, in part, to the reversal of a murder conviction. Gary Nelson was sentenced to die for the 1978 rape and murder of a 6-year-old girl.

Parian testified at the trial that a limb hair found on the girl had similar characteristics to an arm hair taken from Nelson. He went on to say that the hair was a potential match with only 120 African-Americans in Chatham County.

But Parian and prosecutors failed to mention that FBI analysis of the hair concluded the sample was "not suitable for significant comparison purposes." In other words, there was no way to link the hair to Nelson using credible scientific methods.

The withholding of the FBI report and Nelson's inability to counter Parian's testimony was cited in the Georgia Supreme Court's 1991 decision reversing his conviction.

Nelson was eventually freed from prison.

Parian said recently he couldn't recollect the

details of the Nelson case. But he said he did not positively identify Nelson as the killer. "If anybody based a decision on that [testimony], that was not my intention," he said.

Emmet Bondurant, a veteran Atlanta lawyer who handled Nelson's appeal, was alarmed when he learned from Davis' lawyers that Parian was involved in analyzing evidence in Davis' case.

He believes Davis' lawyers are right to question Parian's work.

"It would certainly make me far more guarded and skeptical of his testimony," Bondurant said.
Troy Davis Case Goes Before Georgia Supreme Court
By Kaitlyn Pratt
E-mail | Biography

A man sentenced to death for killing a Savannah police officer will get a chance before the Georgia Supreme Court next month.

38-year-old Troy Anthony Davis was convicted in the 1989 murder of Officer Mark MacPhail. Davis was granted a stay of execution by the state Board of Pardons and Paroles the day before he was scheduled to be put to death in July.

In August, the high court granted Troy Davis' application for discretionary appeal from the denial of his motion for a new trial. They'll hear arguments from Davis' lawyers and prosecutors November 13th.

Officer Mark MacPhail was shot twice after he rushed to help a homeless man who had been assaulted. The shooting happened in a Burger King parking lot next to a bus station where MacPhail worked off-duty as a security guard.
Its good news to hear that there is a stay of execution. I'm going to focus on this statement about 'catastrophic flaws in the U.S. Death Penalty machine'. In my opinion, I'm sure that some of you all will agree to a certain extent, that every black person in America from today and back to slavery times would definitely agree that there is a 'flaw' in the way the death penalty has been applied in the U.S. since the day we arrived here and the U.S. became a sovreign nation. For us, I believe it is a human rights issue. The death penalty is a tool of genocide on African-Americans. Our human rights have greatly decreased since the 1950's and 1960's. I'm basing this on McCarthyism and COINTELPRO. Laws were passed during those times before the Patriot Act that allow the government to take over cities and declare martial law for an undefined amount of time. Read about it in "The Choice" by Samuel F. Yette.
OK I got a little off track here. Regarding the death penalty, it was never applied equally or fairly when it came to African-Americans, period. There were people in the U.S. who were 'disappeared'. There were also people who were murdered by mobs for allegedly committing crimes by being dragged out of the local jails. So this flaw in the system is by design. I chalk it up as yet another reason we ought to seriously act on creating our own communities and interacting with other African people around the world.

November 9, 2007

Amnesty International Holds Media Availability Following Troy Davis Hearing
"You should never be able to convict a man or even indict a person without any physical evidence," Davis says in recently-released audio recording

(Atlanta)--Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) will discuss the Troy Davis case immediately after the Georgia Supreme Court hearing for Davis on Tuesday, November 13. The media availability will be held in front of the Supreme Court Building at 20 Mitchell Street on the corner of Washington Street in Atlanta.

"This hearing must demonstrate Georgia's newfound commitment to justice," said Jared Feuer, Southern Regional Director for AIUSA, who will attend the hearing. "When a man's life is in the balance, it is unconscionable to ignore new evidence because of technicalities. The Georgia Supreme Court hearing signifies that authorities built a case on the absence of physical evidence and the testimony of unreliable witnesses."

In a recently-released recording, Davis stated similar sentiments. "You should never be able to convict a man or even indict a person, man or woman, without any physical evidence," Davis said in an address that thanks his supporters worldwide. "I would never take another human being's life, and?my family is in mourning, the victim's family is in mourning and the truth is still locked in because I didn't get justice," Davis added.

Amnesty International has long-standing concerns about the Davis case. In the February, 2007 report "Where Is the Justice For Me?" Amnesty International noted, "there are serious and as yet unanswered questions surrounding the reliability of his conviction and the state's conduct in obtaining it." The organization has mobilized its worldwide membership to write letters and sign petitions on behalf of Davis; the latest petition drive, accompanied by the audio recording of Davis, has generated thousands of signatures in the week leading up to the Georgia Supreme Court hearing.


WHAT: Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) media availability regarding Troy Anthony Davis

WHO: Jared Feuer, Southern Regional Director, AIUSA

WHERE: Front of Georgia Supreme Court, 20 Mitchell Street, Atlanta

WHEN: Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007, immediately following the Georgia Supreme Court hearing (approximately 11:15am)

To listen to the recording of Troy Davis, please visit: All use of audio must credit Amnesty International.
Court rejects appeal by death row man
By Matthew Bigg 1 hour, 42 minutes ago

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A U.S. court rejected on Monday an appeal by a death row inmate who defense lawyers say is innocent in a case that the Pope and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Desmond Tutu have described as troubling.

In a 4-3 decision, Georgia's Supreme Court turned down an appeal for a new trial for convicted murderer Troy Davis, saying the initial trial court did not abuse its power by rejecting demands for a fresh trial or a hearing on new evidence.

Davis was convicted in 1991 and sentenced to death by a court in Georgia's Chatham County for the 1989 murder of police officer Mark MacPhail, who was shot dead near a Burger King restaurant in Savannah.

Davis' lawyers say it was a case of mistaken identity. Seven of nine witnesses who testified against him have since recanted and some say police coerced them into giving their original evidence.

Four of those witnesses also now say another man, Sylvester Coles, shot MacPhail and three of them say Coles has confessed to the murder, according to court papers.

Aside from the witness testimony, there was no murder weapon and no DNA or other evidence linking Davis to the crime, his attorneys told the Georgia Supreme Court last November.

Several prominent people have expressed concern about the case including Pope Benedict, Tutu, Helen Prejean, who wrote the book "Dead Man Walking," and former FBI Director William Sessions.

Davis came within 24 hours of being executed by lethal injection last July before the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles stepped in.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined last June to hear the case and Davis' lawyers would likely return to the Georgia board in the hope of delaying an execution that could take place later in the year, said a spokeswoman for Amnesty International.

A summary opinion by the Georgia Supreme Court said sworn testimony against Davis at his initial trial held more weight than later recantations in part because memories are fresher closer to the time of the crimes.

A dissenting opinion said the court "fails to allow an adequate inquiry into the fundamental question, which is whether or not an innocent person might have been convicted or even, as in this case, might be put to death."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/17/08

The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday, by a 4-3 vote, rejected Troy Anthony Davis' bid for a new trial, keeping the condemned cop killer who claims he is innocent on death row.

Davis was sentenced to death in Chatham County for the 1989 murder of Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail in a Burger King parking lot. Since his trial 17 years ago, seven of the nine witnesses used by prosecutors to convict Davis have recanted their testimony.

Testimony at trial formed the core of the prosecution's case against Davis because there was little physical evidence: no murder weapon, fingerprints or DNA. The case has attracted international attention because of Davis' claims of innocence.

In its opinion, the court said a "general lack of credibility" should be assigned recantation testimony. It gave more weight to the testimony at trial, which the court noted was closer to the time of the murder and when memories were more trustworthy.

"We simply cannot disregard the jury's verdict in this case," Justice Harold Melton wrote for the majority. He was joined by Justices George Carley, Harris Hines and Hugh Thompson.

Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears said she would have granted Davis a new hearing to allow a judge to weigh the new evidence. Justices Carol Hunstein and Robert Benham joined her in dissent,

"In this case, nearly every witness who identified Davis as the shooter at trail has now disclaimed his or her ability to do so reliably," Sears wrote.

The collective impact of the new testimony, if found credible by a judge, Sears wrote, "would show the probability that a new jury would find reasonable doubt of Davis' guilt or at least sufficient residual doubt to decline to impose the death penalty."

Davis's sister, Martina Correia, said she was stunned by the court's opinion.

"I'm shocked," Correia said. "But we've had years of disappointment before. We still have fight in us."

Jason Ewart, one of Davis' lawyers, said the court voted 4-3 "for finality over fairness."

"We think that with such a hard, closely decided case, the next step should not be execution," Ewart said.

Davis' lawyers have argued their client was convicted in a case of mistaken identity. Sylvester "Redd" Coles, who was at the scene at the time of the murder, is the real killer, defense attorneys have argued in their motions to the court. Coles declined to talk to a Journal-Constitution reporter last year when asked about the case.

Coles, the first person to go to police and finger Davis as the suspect, is one of the two trial witnesses who have not recanted their testimony. The other, Stephen Sanders, first told police he could not identify the gunman. But at trial, Sanders testified he saw Davis stand over MacPhail and fire the fatal shots.

In the majority opinion, Melton said the court considered whether the new evidence would present a different verdict. Most of the witnesses who recanted "have merely stated they now do not feel able to identify the shooter." Melton said he would not ignore the trial testimony, "and, in fact, we favor that original testimony over the new."

In a statement, Amnesty International USA said the case was tainted from the beginning because of a "questionable police investigation" and a lack of funds to insure an adequate defense. The human-rights organization also blasted the court's opinion as being another example of a restrictive appeals process that has thwarted efforts to present the new evidence.

Amnesty said it will now ask the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant Davis clemency.

"The Board of Pardons [and Paroles] must recognize that a blind adherence to technicalities cannot trump a concerted search for the truth, especially when a human being's life is at stake," Amnesty's executive director, Larry Cox, said.

Chatham County District Attorney Spencer Lawton, who has argued in favor the original death sentence, could not be reached for immediate comment.

MacPhail was shot to death in a Burger King parking lot in Savannah on Aug. 19, 1989. The officer, working an off-duty job, responded to a report of a fight in the parking next to the Greyhound bus station. In 1991, a jury sentenced Davis to death for firing the fatal shots.

Davis was less than 24 hours from lethal injection in July 2007 when the state Board of Pardons and Paroles, troubled by last-minute questions about his guilt, stayed the execution for 90 days. The purpose of delaying the execution, the board said, was for "evaluating and analyzing the evidence."

But a few weeks later, the Board of Pardons and Paroles suspended its consideration for clemency after the Georgia Supreme Court, by a 4-3 vote, agreed to consider Davis' appeal.
Amnesty International Decries Ruling in Troy Davis Case

Monday, Mar 17, 2008 - 10:11 AM Updated: 02:11 PM

By Amnesty Internation Press Release
Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) decried today's Georgia Supreme Court decision to deny a new trial for Troy Anthony Davis, who has been on death row for more than 16 years despite significant concerns regarding his innocence. The human rights organization, which has collected more than 60,000 petition signatures while campaigning for Davis, said the ruling demonstrates a blatant disregard for justice, and asserted that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles must grant clemency in his case.

"The claim that evidence in Davis' favor was not sufficient to reopen his case is simply stunning," said Larry Cox, executive director of AIUSA. "In turning a blind eye to the realities of the case, the legal system has shrugged off the very notion of justice at every level, from Savannah to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Board of Pardons must recognize that a blind adherence to technicalities cannot trump a concerted search for the truth, especially when a human being's life is at stake.
The Georgia State Supreme Court decided 4-3 against a new trial or evidentiary hearing, with the majority ruling that the Savannah trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Davis' extraordinary motion for new trial without first conducting a hearing.

Amnesty International maintains that the case has been tainted from the start, with a questionable police investigation, a lack of funding to ensure adequate defense, and an increasingly restrictive appeals process, which has thwarted attempts to present new evidence in the case. In the wake of the state Supreme Court decision, the human rights organization is once again calling for the Georgia Board of Pardon and Paroles to commute the death sentence for Davis due to the troubling facts of the conviction.

Troy Davis was convicted of the murder of Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail in 1991. Davis was convicted solely on the basis of witness testimony, and seven of the nine non-police witnesses have since recanted or changed their testimony. No murder weapon was found and no physical evidence linked Davis to the crime. Several cited police coercion, and others fear of one of the remaining two witnesses, whom they allege actually committed the crime.

"With this decision, the Supreme Court is ignoring the fundamental flaws that underlie the death penalty in Georgia and in Troy Davis's case," said Jared Feuer, Southern Regional Director of AIUSA. "As a result, we will continue to advocate for a re-examination of his sentence and of Georgia's use of capital punishment. Officer MacPhail's life was cut tragically short, and his family and the people of Georgia deserve justice. This will not be accomplished by executing a man with a strong case of innocence."
An innocent man?

What is most puzzling to Virginia Davis is that nearly all of the witnesses who helped send her son to death row are now the people who might clear his name. But Georgia's legal system is unwilling to hear what they have to say.

At Troy Davis' 1991 trial, no physical evidence tied him to the murder of Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail, a young father of two who was shot three times while trying to break up a fight. Instead, nine witnesses ensured a conviction by testifying that Davis shot MacPhail.

Since then, seven of the nine witnesses have recanted their testimony. At least four have stated that they were pressured by investigators to identify Davis. Three other people have come forward to say that another man confessed to the killing. That man, Sylvester "Redd" Coles, admitted he was at the scene of the crime and was the first person to tell police that Davis was the shooter. He later testified against Davis and is one of the two witnesses who didn't recant.

Despite the new evidence, however, Georgia's courts – including the state Supreme Court – have ruled against hearing the witnesses' recantations.

"They believed these people before," Virginia Davis said, standing under a brilliant blue sky in the shadow of the state Capitol at a rally May 17 organized by Amnesty International. "Why not believe them now?"

Roughly 80 protesters congregated on the steps of the Capitol to draw awareness to a cause that has attracted the support of state legislators and congressmen, Amnesty International, and Pope Benedict XVI. Davis, who was granted a temporary stay of execution last July – less than 24 hours before he was to be put to death – is likely to receive another execution date this fall.

"What we've been yelling and screaming for the last eight years now is a hearing," says Washington D.C.-based attorney Jason Ewart, who's representing Davis pro bono. "All we want is a judge to hear our witnesses and decide whether they're credible or not."

Chatham County District Attorney Spencer Lawton, who's been in office since before Davis' trial, has stood by the jury's verdict. In court filings and hearings, he's reiterated that the right man was convicted.

Davis' sister Martina Correia wonders why the initial verdict is so sacred – especially considering that four of the jurors have signed sworn statements that say they wouldn't have sentenced Davis to death if the evidence available today had been presented at his trial.

Five years passed before witnesses began to come forward and renounce their testimony. Prior to that, Davis didn't have access to the kind of representation that could track down and grill those witnesses, according to Laura Moye, deputy director of the southern regional office of Amnesty International.

Moye says that the Georgia Resource Center, which handles the appeals of most of the 100-plus people on Georgia's death row, has suffered over the past dozen years from budget cuts that slashed its staff from eight lawyers to two. And in the early '90s, Davis had depended on GRC attorneys for representation.

It wasn't until 1996 that the first witness recanted, and it took seven years for lawyers to obtain statements from six other trial witnesses. But Davis' case then hit another hurdle. Due to a 1996 federal law that shortened the appeals process for death row inmates, the new evidence was considered by the state's lower courts to be too little, too late.

By the time Davis' execution was set for July 2007, the Georgia Supreme Court offered one last chance to hear the evidence. But when the justices issued their opinion two months ago, they voted 4-3 against Davis.

Justice Harold Melton, writing for the majority, stated, "We favor that original testimony over the new. ... We simply cannot disregard the jury's verdict in this case."

Chief Justice Leah Sears expressed disappointment in the court's decision. In a minority opinion, she wrote: "This Court's approach ... is overly rigid and fails to allow an adequate inquiry into the fundamental question, which is whether or not an innocent person might have been convicted or even, as in this case, might be put to death."

Stephen Bright, president of the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights, points out that the Supreme Court's ruling follows the law – seemingly to the exclusion of common sense. Legally, a witness's original testimony carries far more weight than any revelation that might come later. Even if someone were to go to the authorities and say that he, and not the convicted murderer, actually pulled the trigger, it's difficult to get the court to consider new testimony.

"This case shows just how hard it is to get a second look at the evidence," says Bright, who's represented hundreds of death row inmates and teaches classes at Yale University.

Ewart has appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but he admits the odds of the nation's highest court hearing the case are "kind of like winning the lottery."

There is one more hope, though. In Georgia, the Board of Pardons and Parole has the authority to commute Davis' sentence. And the board has indicated a willingness to do so. According to an order issued in July: "The members of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles will not allow an execution to proceed in this State unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused."

The board already has heard from five of the trial witnesses and, according to Davis' sister, is interested in hearing from more.

Ewart is optimistic about the Board of Pardons and Parole, which cannot commute a death sentence until an execution date has been set. That likely will happen in October.

While Bright says the likeliest scenario would be that Davis' sentence is commuted to life without the possibility of parole, Ewart is holding out hope that Davis will be pardoned. Short of that, he's pushing for a life with parole sentence. In that event, he says, "we're not talking about Troy walking out of jail." That's because when a death sentence is commuted to life with parole, the state requires that an inmate serve at least 25 years.

Bright says that if Davis is innocent, a life without parole commutation would only be reassuring to a point. "It's not as bad as being executed for something you didn't do," Bright says, "but it's still pretty bad."
Originally posted by listener:
how well-known is the case of Troy Davis in America?

I don't have a clue. I do not really listen to corporate media here with the exception of the occasional CNN report. I would say that most Americans have never heard of Troy Davis, and if they do, they could care less about what happens to him. For far to many Americans, he had a shot in court, was convicted, he should be executed.
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thank you.
Sometimes I got the impression that many things are absolutely out of balance. Perhaps I can't judge it but when I think about that it makes national news into (white) America if Obama wears a lapel pin or something like Rev. Wright's statements, but topics which really should make news - the probable execution of an innocent person - are somehow 'not so important'. ?
And a Bush who lectures the world about human rights sck The right to live is a human right, which is violated by the nation of America quite often Frown
Local Human Rights Activist Takes Message Abroad

NEWS 3 first introduced her to you, as a breast cancer survivor.
And we've since come to know her as a sister - committed to clearing her brother's name. Troy Davis is on death row -- convicted of killing a Savannah police officer.

This activist -- now taking that message abroad.
"We want you to come to France," recalls Correia.

Amnesty International France - asking Correia to come and champion human rights.
"Troy's case is not even about the death penalty anymore. Troy's case is about humanity," she says.

She found herself before members of Parliament in the European Union and the Council of Europe.
"I couldn't understand all of the languages, but I mean, what resounded when his case was on the floor - you could hear Troy Anthony Davis, you could hear Georgia," Correia adds.

And at a rally in Paris: A crowd of complete strangers -- supporting her brother.
"This is about a fight for the person who can't fight for themselves because their hands are tied," she says.

Correia calls the trip humbling - and hopeful:
"Collectively you have people coming from all over who are saying we need to stop, we need to listen, we need to do something."

Each party of the European Union -- is now asking the U.S. to give Davis a new trial, to spare his life.
"And no matter what happens in the Troy Anthony Davis case, people know his name all around the world," she says.
Execution Date Set for Georgia Murderer

ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia authorities have set Sept. 23 as the execution date for a death row inmate who has drawn international headlines with claims that he is innocent of killing a police officer.

Troy Davis was convicted of gunning down a Savannah police officer in 1989. He says evidence of his innocence is strong enough to grant him a new trial. Several witnesses against Davis have since recanted.

The Georgia Supreme Court, by identical 4-3 votes, rejected Davis' appeal in March and a plea to reconsider the ruling in April. He has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider his case. That appeal is pending.

Davis case has drawn widespread attention from human rights groups, including Amnesty International.
(Atlanta, GA) – Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) is shocked that the State Attorney General's office today has issued a death warrant for Troy Anthony Davis. Given that Mr. Davis has not been able to see justice served, the human rights organization maintains that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles must prevent the execution.

"The Attorney General's decision to issue the death warrant is an appalling display of injustice," said Larry Cox, executive director for AIUSA. "Given the Georgia Supreme Court's failure to order an evidentiary hearing for Mr. Davis, it is all the more essential that the Georgia Board step in. We are disappointed by the Attorney General's decision to short-circuit justice."

The death warrant is dated for September 23, signifying that his execution could occur anywhere from the 23rd to the 30th of this month.

"Last year the Georgia Board stated that they will not carry out this execution unless there is no doubt as to Mr. Davis' guilt," said Jared Feuer, Southern regional director for AIUSA. "Throughout his legal appeals, the courts have relied on technicalities to ignore essential evidence as to Mr. Davis' guilt. Not only do doubts remain, but they are pervasive. Letting this execution go forward simply should not be an option."

Mr. Davis was convicted in 1991 of killing off-duty police officer Mark Allen MacPhail. His conviction came despite police failing to produce a murder weapon or any physical evidence linking Mr. Davis to the crime. Since his conviction, seven of nine state witnesses have recanted or changed their testimony in sworn affidavits, during a time in which convictions relying solely on eyewitness testimony have come under scrutiny. One of the remaining two state witnesses is alleged to be the actual killer, but this lead was not investigated by police.

Support for Mr. Davis has been far-reaching. To date Amnesty International has collected more than 100,000 letters and petition signatures for Mr. Davis from Georgians as well as concerned citizens across the United States and around the world. Groups ranging from the NAACP and European Parliament have passed resolutions calling for Mr. Davis' sentence to be commuted.
Typically when a condemned killer is strapped to the gurney on Georgia's death row and prepared for lethal injection, any doubt about his guilt has long since faded.

But that would not be the case with Troy Anthony Davis, his lawyers say.

On Friday, for the second time, Davis' attorneys will ask the state Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute his death sentence. Last summer, hours before Davis' scheduled execution, the board granted Davis a temporary reprieve.

This time, Davis' attorneys again will argue there is substantial doubt as to whether their client committed the Aug. 19, 1989, murder of Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail.

Chatham County prosecutors, investigators and members of MacPhail's family also will appear before the five-member board. They will insist the scheduled Sept. 23 execution of Davis, 39, will be nothing more than justice for an unrepentant cop killer.

Since Davis' 1991 trial, seven key witnesses have recanted their testimony. Witness testimony formed the core of the prosecution's case because physical evidence was scant: no murder weapon, no fingerprints, no DNA.

Davis' claims of innocence have attracted international attention. But courts have repeatedly rejected Davis' efforts to win a new trial or, at least, a court hearing in which the recantation testimony can be presented and cross-examined.

Atlanta lawyer Henry Walker, chair of the State Bar of Georgia's indigent defense committee, said MacPhail's murder was the type of killing in which the death penalty should be considered. But he said Davis should be allowed to present his new evidence, granted a new trial or re-sentenced to life without parole.

"It is important to the public's confidence in Georgia's criminal justice system that no person's life is taken by the state except in circumstances where their constitutional rights to a fair trial have been fully respected," he said. "With so many witnesses recanting their testimony, there just seems to be too many doubts to move forward with this execution."

Davis was within 24 hours of being put to death when the parole board temporarily stayed his execution on July 16, 2007. The board issued its decision after a 10-hour hearing in which it heard from a number of witness, including four who recanted their trial testimony.

The board said in a statement it "will not allow an execution to proceed in this state unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused."

On Friday, Davis' lawyers are expected to present more recantation testimony to the parole board.

The board does not like to second-guess a jury's verdict and is rarely ever presented with claims of innocence in a death-penalty case, Jack Martin, an Atlanta criminal defense lawyer, said.

"Most often, the parole board will be presented with information that the inmate has been rehabilitated, is a peacemaker in jail, has a serious mental illness, has shown good character, is remorseful, or even that the victim's family, for whatever reason, no longer wants the execution," Martin said. "But the Troy Davis case is different because so much has been learned since the trial about things the jury never heard."

David Lock, Chatham County's chief assistant district attorney, said his office has no doubts that Davis killed MacPhail.

"I think we've already shot them down," Lock said of the witnesses who recanted their trial testimony. "We're there to answer questions, reintegrate evidence or information that's been provided to the parole board."

Members of MacPhail's family did not return phone calls seeking comment.

In March, after the state Supreme Court rejected Davis' last appeal in a 4-3 ruling, the slain officer's mother, Anneliese MacPhail expressed frustration that Davis has sat on death row so long.

"There is no new evidence," she said. "No mother should go through what I have been through."

Jason Ewart, one of Davis' lawyers, said he is hopeful the parole board will halt Davis' execution.

"There's already some doubt," he said. "We think the evidence will show at least reasonable doubt here, and we're confident the board will find that he's innocent."

MacPhail, a 27-year-old husband and father of two, appeared in a Savannah Burger King parking lot late at night after hearing the wails of man being pistol-whipped. Before he could draw his gun, MacPhail was shot by a man who then stood over the fallen officer and fired again and again.

Two years later, Davis went to trial and was sentenced to death. But as he aged on death row, seven witnesses changed their stories.

Two key witnesses have not changed their testimony. One, Sylvester "Redd" Coles, was at the scene and later told police Davis was the shooter. But new witnesses, found by Davis' lawyers, now say Coles confessed to them that he killed MacPhail. Other witnesses say Coles had a gun immediately after the shooting, contrary to what Coles testified at trial.

In a prior interview, Coles declined to discuss the case.

The second witness, Stephen Sanders, was at the scene with his Air Force colleagues at the time of the shooting. Sanders initially told police he could not identify the gunman, but at trial he testified he saw Davis fire the fatal shots.
Originally posted by listener:
how well-known is the case of Troy Davis in America?

I've never heard of this case anywhere but this thread. A Google search doesn't reveal any major coverage outside of blogs, underground/independent websites, and local Atlanta area news organizations. Thanks for keeping up with it.
Frown Eek

Clemency Denied for Troy Davis

Georgia's Parole Board has denied clemency for death row inmate Troy Davis. Davis is scheduled to be executed September 23rd for the killing of Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail. Davis met with the board behind closed doors Friday. He contends he should be granted a new trial after several witnesses who testified against him recanted their statements. Activist groups including Amnesty International have also called on the state to delay the execution until the Supreme Court discusses the case later this month. It now appears unlikely that will happen. Davis was convicted of the 1989 murder of 27-year-old officer MacPhail, who was working off-duty as a security guard at a bus station.
New York civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton is on his way to Georgia. He plans to pray on death row with condemned killer Troy Anthony Davis Saturday night and afterwards hold a press conference outside Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.

Sharpton is the latest prominent figure to take up the cause of Davis, 39, who is scheduled for execution by lethal injection Tuesday night. Last week Davis lost his appeal for clemency to the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles.Former Georgia congressman and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr wrote a letter to the parole board this week asking it to reconsider the Davis case because, he wrote, "the doubts about the Davis case have not been resolved, and fears that Georgia might execute an innocent man have not been allayed."

Former President Jimmy Carter issued a statement Friday also asking the parole board to reconsider the case, saying that it "illustrates the deep flaws in the application of the death penalty in this country."

Carter wrote that "executing Troy Davis without a real examination of potentially exonerating evidence risks taking the life of an innocent man and would be a grave miscarriage of justice."

Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and the NAACP said Saturday they are planning another rally at 11 a.m. Monday in front of the Georgia State Capitol to urge the parole board to reconsider or the state Supreme Court to stay the execution of Davis while his case is appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Davis is convicted of killing a Savannah police officer, Mark Allen MacPhail, on Aug. 19, 1989. Since Davis' 1991 trial several key witnesses have recanted their testimony. Witness testimony formed the core of the prosecution's case because physical evidence was scant: no murder weapon, no fingerprints, no DNA.

The case has attracted worldwide attention, with calls to stop his execution from Pope Benedict XVI, Amnesty International and Nobel Peace Prize-Winner Desmond Tutu. Rallies have been held as far away as Paris, France.

Officer MacPhail's mother, Anneliese MacPhail, 74, of Columbus, said Saturday she is "disgusted" by the outpouring of support for Davis. "It's tearing me apart to see my son's name dragged through the mud because of all of this."

She said she had no doubt Davis is guilty. "I hope this is over Tuesday and I can have some peace," she said. She will not attend the scheduled execution, however.

"Three of my children will be in Jackson," she said.
Tuesday night in Georgia, around the same time the sun begins to go down in the red western sky, a nurse working for the state government will inject a needle containing poison into the veins of a black man named Troy Davis as punishment for murdering a policeman outside a Savannah Burger King 16 years ago.

And moments later, Troy Davis will die.

Troy Davis was convicted and sentenced to die, yet there was never any physical evidence linking him to the crime.

Troy Davis was convicted and sentenced to die, yet the murder weapon was never found.

Troy Davis was convicted and sentenced to die based solely on witness testimony. Yet seven of the nine witnesses police used in their prosecution have since recanted their testimony. In other words, seven of the nine witnesses that once laid guilt on Troy Davis have since said they were lying and pressured to do so by police.

One of the witnesses yet to recant is Sylvester "Red'' Coles. He is the alternative suspect.

Last week, Georgia's Board of Pardons and Paroles met land denied granting clemency to Troy Davis. Gale Buckner is the board chair and shares that role with Garland Hunt, Robert Keller, Milton Nix and Garfield Hammonds. Their phone number is 404-656-5651. Sonny Perdue, the governor, can be reached at 404-656-1776. Troy Davis, of course, is on 24-hour death watch, but you can listen to him speak about his faith in God, justice for the victim's family and life on death row at

So how does a state kill its own people? If we were to create a system of capital punishment, would we not want to reserve it for the situations where guilt is of utmost certainty? Would we not want to be absolutely and undoubtedly sure that our criminal is guilty?

No other nation on earth incarcerates more of its own citizens than the United States. Our nation sits comfortably in the top five nations who execute its own citizens, right behind China and Saudi Arabia. From pulpits to political talk, our nation claims to be one resting on Christian morals and values, a pro-life culture. Perhaps, but it is not for the reason most think.

The theologian James Cone once claimed that the lynching tree is the Christian cross. In other words, the innocent black man hanging from the tree is Christ. If we are indeed a Christian nation, it is because we continue to kill Christ in the form of innocent black men.

Just like Troy Davis, who, tomorrow night at the sun sets, may be nailed to a tree for a crime he did not commit.

(David Cook can be reached at
Listner ..

Does Germany not have death penality sentencing? Confused

If not, have they ever? And if not, what is the maximum sentencing for murder?? Confused

And in fact, if you wouldn't mind, what type of criminal prosecution does your country practice? 19 Judge & Jury? Innocent until proven guilty? Guilty until proven innocent?? How does that go, exactly??

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