1.13.2009

The case of death row inmate Troy Davis on hold


Written By Jesse Muhammad

“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 bare”, said Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis in a recent letter to his supporters.

Mr. Davis was granted a third stay of execution and his defense team was granted 20 minutes in an oral argument in early December to demand that the federal courts grant them the opportunity to file an appeal for their client based upon what they call evidence of clear innocence. If two of the three judges decide that there is merit to their argument, the court may allow Mr. Davis to seek an evidentiary hearing in the Savannah district that first convicted him.

Mr. Davis’ sister is somewhat hopeful if that is the outcome being that Chatham residents just elected its first Black district attorney in Larry Chisolm.

“We are hopeful that if it gets sent back to the county where Troy was first convicted, the new DA will handle it justly”, said Martina Correia to The Final Call. “Sometimes when you have a new district attorney they may decide to reopen old cases.”

“But we have not heard anything back from the courts at all since the oral arguments so everything is in a holding pattern”, she said. “We are waiting to see what they decide to do and that will dictate our next move in terms of protests and planning this year.”

Mr. Davis was convicted in 1991 of the murder of White Savannah police Officer Mark MacPhail. Witnesses claimed Mr. Davis, who was then 19 years of age, and two others were harassing a homeless man in the parking lot of a Burger King restaurant when Mr. MacPhail arrived on the scene to help the man. Witnesses also testified at trial that Mr. Davis then shot Mr. MacPhail twice and fled the scene.

Since his conviction, seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted their testimonies and no physical evidence has been presented that links Mr. Davis to the killing.

The oral arguments were held on December 9 at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals of Georgia. According to Ms. Correia, the defense team argued that improper proceedings conducted by Mr. Davis’ previous counsel was out of his control and that he has not been given a fair trial. Thus they believe the unjust handling of Mr. Davis’ case it is a violation of the 8th Amendment that states that, “excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted”.

“There are some people who have suggested that my brother take a life without parole sentence. But he told me we didn’t fight this long and hard only to give in”, said Ms. Correia to The Final Call. “He believes that God did not bring him this far to leave him alone. My brother has faith. We still have fight in us and we will never give up”

“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 world-wide has ignited a fire that is raging for Human Rights and Human Dignity”, continued Mr. Davis in the letter posted on a “Free Troy Davis” website. He has faced three execution dates: July 17, 2007; Sept. 23, 2008; and Oct. 27, 2008.

Mr. Davis stance has galvanized worldwide attention and even accolades. Just days before his last execution date, rallies were held in 16 countries and over 40 U.S. cities demanding his freedom. The Sunday Paper, based in Georgia, voted him one of the Top Five 2008 Persons of the Year, which is awarded annually to those who merited headlines.

“My brother has been an inspiration to thousands and has received so many letters and visits from supporters”, said Ms. Correia. “It is so critical for media like The Final Call to keep this story out in the open because the state of Georgia is recognizing that they can no longer do their corruptness in the dark. Every thing is being brought to light with information.”

(For more information visit:www.troyanthonydavis.org