The Horror of America: Georgia Set to Execute Troy Davis, Despite His Conviction Being Riddled with Doubt

20.9.11

Today (September 20), the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency to Troy Davis. He is scheduled to die by lethal injection tomorrow (Wednesday, September 21, 2011) at 7 pm EST. To take action for Troy Davis, please visit this Amnesty International page and send urgent emails to the Pardons Board and the District Attorney.

Troy Davis was convicted of murdering a Georgia police officer in 1991, based upon the testimony of nine witnesses, seven of whom have recanted their testimony entirely, and has been on death row since his conviction. Three previous attempts to execute him were stayed at the last minute.

As Amnesty International explained today:

The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, all but two of the state’s non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted 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.

One of the two witnesses who has not recanted his testimony is Sylvester “Red” Coles — the principle alternative suspect, according to the defense, against whom there is new evidence implicating him as the gunman. Nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles.

As Amnesty International also stated in a blog post:

[D]emand that the Board reconsider its decision and demand that Chatham County (Savannah) District Attorney Larry Chisolm seek a withdrawal of the death warrant and support clemency himself. This appalling decision renders meaningless the Board’s 2007 vow to not permit an execution unless there is “no doubt” about guilt.  The Troy Davis case is riddled with doubt [...]

Nearly a million supporters of human rights and justice have called for clemency in this case, so far. They believed in the common-sense notion that you should not execute someone when you can’t be sure they are guilty. Death penalty supporters like Bob Barr, former Texas Governor Mark White,  and former FBI Director William Sessions also support clemency in this case, for the same reason. And at least three jurors from Davis’ trial have asked for his execution to be called off. Putting Troy Davis to death would be a grave injustice to those jurors who believe they sentenced Davis to death based on questionable information.

In the fall of 2008, Troy’s sister, Martina Correia, who has campaigned ceaselessly for justice for Troy, introduced a statement from her brother that demonstrates a sense of humanity that is sorely lacking in the board members who, today authorized Troy’s execution.

A Message from Troy Anthony Davis

I want to thank all of you for your efforts and dedication to human rights and human kindness. In the past year, I have experienced such emotion, joy, sadness and never-ending faith.

It is because of all of you that I am alive today. As I look at my sister Martina, I am marveled by the love she has for me — and of course, I worry about her and her health. But as she tells me, she is the eldest, and she will not back down from this fight to save my life and prove to the world that I am innocent of this terrible crime.

As I look at my mail from across the globe, from places I have never ever dreamed I would know about, and people speaking languages and expressing cultures and religions I could only hope to one day see firsthand, I am humbled by the emotion that fills my heart with overwhelming, overflowing joy.

I can’t even explain the surge of emotion I feel when I try to express the strength I draw from you all. It compounds my faith, and it shows me yet again that this is not a case about the death penalty, this is not a case about Troy Davis — this is a case about justice, and the human spirit to see justice prevail.

I cannot answer all of your letters, but I do read them all. I cannot see you all, but I can imagine your faces. I cannot hear you speak, but your letters take me to the far reaches of the world. I cannot touch you physically, but I feel your warmth every day I exist.

So thank you, and remember I am in a place where execution can only destroy your physical form, but because of my faith in God, my family and all of you, I have been spiritually free for some time. And no matter what happens in the days and weeks to come, this movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated.

There are so many more Troy Davises. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me, but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe.

I want you to know that the trauma placed on me and my family as I have now faced execution and the death chamber three times is more punishment than most can bear. Yet as I face this state-sanctioned terror, I realize one constant — my faith is unwavering, the love of my family and friends is massive, and the fight for justice and against injustice by activists worldwide has ignited a fire that is raging for human rights and human dignity.

You inspire me, you honor me, and as I pray for strength and guidance for my family and loved ones, and for the victim’s family and loved ones, I share with you this struggle. I share with you our triumphs, knowing that you add to my strength and my courage, and because of that, I share with you my life.

We must dismantle this unjust system, city by city, state by state and country by country. I can’t wait to stand with you, no matter if that is in physical or spiritual form. I will one day be announcing, “I AM TROY DAVIS, and I AM FREE!”

Never stop fighting for justice, and we will win!

*****

To reiterate, if you wish to take action for Troy Davis, please visit this Amnesty International page and send urgent emails to the Pardons Board and District Attorney.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in June 2011, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, 700,000-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

40 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    I’m hearing this from the Center for Constitutional Rights — Only Judge Penny Freesemann can withdraw the death warrant. Call 912-652-7252.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Oliver Sidorczuk wrote:

    Act now, before it’s too late. Thank you Andy.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Betty Molchany wrote:

    Clicked on “digg” only 3 now.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Oliver and Betty, and everyone sharing. Just trying to add my voice to the many distressed by the seeming inevitability of institutional bloodlust in Georgia. America’s adherence to the death penalty is permanently barbaric, even in cases where guilt has been clearly established, but this is just monstrous …

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Charmaine Dolan wrote:

    I tried signing on 2 sites but to no avail …

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Sorry to hear that, Charmaine. I didn’t have a problem myself with the Amnesty link. Alternatively, however, as well as phoning Judge Freeseman on 912-652-7252, you could trying contacting Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm directly. Phone: 912-652-7308 Fax: 912-652-7328.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Mary Zink wrote:

    The problem with Amerikkkans is that they want revenge not justice.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Mary. I wish there wasn’t such a huge amount of truth to that comment.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Charmaine Dolan wrote:

    Thanks Andy I just managed to sign on change.org

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Oh, OK, Charmaine. Thanks for letting me know. That’s here (over 55,000 signatures so far): http://www.change.org/petitions/chatham-county-district-attorney-request-that-troy-davis-death-warrant-be-withdrawn

  11. Andy Worthington says...

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Heidi. That’s where I found Troy’s extraordinary message in the first place …

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    I’m digging this now, Andy. The affair (and the death penalty) get me angry. All I can say is that I’m glad I left in 72.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    I signed a petition yesterday. It was constructed so that expats could sign as well. This is impossible with some petitions, since they require an American postal code. Pretty short-sighted.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, George. Yes, I understand your distress. I used to feel anguished when Margaret Thatcher personally advocated for the return of the death penalty in the UK in the 1980s, but it was an issue of conscience, so she couldn’t force MPs to vote on it — and a majority always voted against (a rare example of MPs showing moral leadership to the public).
    But that, of course, was nothing compared to the US …
    And on your other point, I’m glad also that petition sites are recognizing their international audience!

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Beverly Hendricks wrote:

    Andy, Thanks for this post. I tried to call Freeseman several times. The phone call will not go through. It’s just dead air. Don’t know what that’s about.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Not wanting to be contactable, I guess, Beverly. Here’s a list of officials in Chatham County: http://www.chathamcounty.org/electedofficials.html

    And contact numbers: http://www.chathamcounty.org/contactus.html

    Judge Freeseman is with the Superior Court, and there are numbers worth trying:
    Phone: (912) 652-7197
    Fax: (912) 652-7380

    Also, the Clerk to the Court is Dan W. Massey (numbers as above).

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Meg Catfish Lyons wrote:

    Thanks Andy!

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    You’re welcome, Meg. Like I say, I’m just trying to add my voice — and the people I can reach out to — to what ought to be an unstoppable tide of outrage and disgust. But I guess the executioners just don’t see it that way …

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Dejanka Bryant wrote:

    I signed, thank you, Andy.

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Rob Weaver wrote:

    The horror is thousands more of these creeps are not going to be executed.

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    You’re welcome, Dejanka. Thanks. And the horror, I believe, is the ease with which some people enthuse about taking someone else’s life when there are such serious doubts about the basis of the conviction.

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Yaf Ibn Ahmed wrote:

    This is really sad.

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Cyril Husbands wrote:

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/cyril-husbands/in-the-name-of-troy-mumia-leonard-peltier-and-the-rest/251249684912911

    In the Name of Troy, Mumia, Leonard Peltier and the Rest…

    If, as seems inevitable as I write this, Troy Davis is to be murdered by the USA state, despite the overwhelming evidence of his innocence, let his death not be in vain.

    I recently repeated that the USA uses capital ‘punishment’ as a weapon of mass destruction used against African, Latino, working class and mentally ill men. My friend Kwame Zulu Shabazz said I should keep repeating it, until the message is received. So, I’m repeating it now; let’s stop judicial murder!

    Let’s campaign, explain and sustain until no state puts our people to death ever again! And please, don’t ask; repost this if you want, or deliver a message of your own. Do it for Troy and all the men and women on death row; but do it now – and keep on doing it until they can no longer resist us!

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Dejanka Bryant wrote:

    Yes, Andy. I was horrified when I read this on Betty’s wall- “You can still call or send a fax to Judge Freeseman. Her telephone lines are apparently overwhelmed, but faxes will get through. Yes, there is no law in the US against murder by bureaucrats, and a majority of US citizens favor the death penalty as demonstrated by the “thunderous applause” when Peter Jennings tried to challenge Rick Perry on the 234 executions in his state of Texas.” For this majority liberal leftists (us) are mental illness.

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    Jan Strain wrote:

    Petitions, calls, emails, tweets have made little impact. The case against troy davis has fallen apart BUT Georgia refuses to look at the facts, re-open the case or even offer a review. There is TOO MUCH DOUBT. There is a confession by someone else; there are testimonies of “witnesses” stating they were coerced into testifying against Mr Davis…That doesn’t matter to the Georgia Body Politic.

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Dejanka Bryant If he is going to be executed tonight we, still mentally active, will know that with his death the truth will be buried with him. I am very well aware of the fact that he might be guilty but knowing all the (non)evidence used against him is not legaly acceptable. We don’t need another 60 years to pass when new scientific discovery can prove, with fanfare, of course – Troy Davis who was executed on 21/09/2011 was an innocent man!, do we?

  28. Andy Worthington says...

    AniTa Hdz wrote:

    In my opinion..guilty or not …he has spent 22 years in prison. Most convicted killers don’t serve much more than 12 years of a life sentence. He is clearly a scapegoat…also because it was a police officer. he should be released he has suffered enough.

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    So sad this evening, as every hope seems to disappear. “No law in the US against murder by bureaucrats,” as you say, Dejanka, and chillingly cold-hearted ones at that. Governor Nathan Deal, prove your humanity and call off this barbarity that has the whole world watching in horror.

  30. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    Digging this too. Don’t know what to say.

  31. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    I see I Dugg this earlier this evening. Too much going on.

  32. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes indeed, George. I’m still up. Been completing the 6th of 11 stories for my next article in “The Complete Guantanamo Files” and listening to/watching Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! streaming live. Can’t seem to get any further news just now beyond a delay of between 1 and 7 days while the Supreme Court deliberates. So glad that the killing time passed, but this whole disgraceful behavior on the part of the United States needs to stop. Bring the death penalty to an end! Please.

  33. Andy Worthington says...

    Dejanka Bryant wrote:

    I am physically sick.

  34. Andy Worthington says...

    AniTa Hdz wrote:

    Too sad

  35. Andy Worthington says...

    Dejanka Bryant wrote:

    US is the only nation killing its own citizens while advising others on human rights” ~Troy Davis’ sister

  36. Andy Worthington says...

    AniTa Hdz wrote:

    US kills its own citizens and commits genocide in other countries in the name of democracy..

  37. Andy Worthington says...

    Omar Yunus wrote:

    Don’t know how the US can carry out such a high rate of executions on its citizens, a significant percentage of which are innocent and then point the finger at other countries around the world.

  38. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    The whole horror was enabled by less than 30 words, with no legal or moral reasoning, by this document
    http://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/092111.zr.pdf

  39. Andy Worthington says...

    I’m sorry, my friends. I missed your comments until now. Facebook automatically stopped alerting me to comments by email — I may have to switch that function back on! It has been deeply depressing today since I found out the terrible news. I wrote up my thoughts here, and can only hope that Troy’s cruel and senseless death will reinforce the campaign against the death penalty: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2011/09/22/rip-troy-davis-your-killers-should-be-ashamed/

  40. RIP Troy Davis: Your Killers Should Be Ashamed - OpEd says...

    [...] around the world as the date for his execution approached; and secondly, because there were such profound doubts about his guilt. This, again, is no obstacle to execution in the US, but it was made a particular issue by the [...]

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