[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, GA.
rhalperi at smu.edu
Wed Sep 21 09:43:19 CDT 2011
Stigma lingers in town infamous for dragging death
The bloodstains are long gone. So is the red paint investigators sprayed along
a nearly 3-mile stretch of bumpy asphalt on Huff Creek Road to mark the grisly
final moments of James Byrd Jr.'s life.
What remains are the scars from the hate crime more than 13 years ago that
shocked the nation and branded this Texas town near the Louisiana border with a
racist stigma after a black man was chained to the back of a pickup truck and
dragged to his death.
Lawrence Russell Brewer, 44, one of two purported white supremacists condemned
for Byrd's death, is set to be executed Wednesday for participating in
fastening Byrd to the truck, pulling him along the road and dumping what was
left of his shredded body outside a black church and cemetery.
Brewer's scheduled execution puts the spotlight back on a town still trying to
exorcise the perception of racism that's resurfaced recently with an attempt to
oust three black city council members who helped confirm a black man as police
chief. But residents, city leaders and even researchers who have studied the
infamous community say the dragging death has given Jasper an unfair
"The irony is how undeserved the label they got was," said Cassy Burleson, a
researcher at Baylor University who has been studying Jasper since the Byrd
case. "Just looking at the facts, they were one of the most progressive
communities in Texas."
Jasper, a town of about 7,300, where whites comprise just under half the
population, has no history of notable hate crimes before or since the dragging
death that would be indicative of a racially insensitive town. Several blacks
have served in prominent positions, including mayor, school board president and
held school board seats.
The rest of the country perceived the town quite differently, fed in part by
television footage of the Ku Klux Klan rallying on the courthouse square and
the Black Panthers driving around town, both groups trying to recruit members.
Neither recruited well in Jasper because the town "did not encourage that
presence, buy into it or feed it," said Mia Moody, Burleson's research partner.
Byrd's brutal death put Jasper, a typical East Texas town with the obligatory
Dairy Queen and Walmart and a handful of fast-food places some 60 miles from
the nearest interstate highway, under a national spotlight.
"Everywhere you went, anywhere in the country, once people found out you were
from Jasper, Texas, they wanted to ask you about it," says Mike Lout, the mayor
and owner of the town radio station. "Everybody first was shocked and appalled
and not proud of it. They talked about it so much in the days past it, I think
most people wanted to put it out of their minds."
If Jasper was hoping to rehabilitate its sullied image, the squabble over the
hiring of a black police chief in April won't help. Several rejected applicants
have sued, alleging reverse discrimination, and 3 of the 4 black council
members who voted for the appointment are facing a recall election in November.
Recall supporters say the chief was selected over more qualified applicants,
including the former second-in-command who is white.
"It's heartbreaking," said Billy Rowles, who was sheriff at the time of Byrd's
murder. "A lot of effort and hard work and soul-searching went into trying to
live down the stereotype. It's so easy to get back into that mode."
Besides Brewer, who is scheduled for lethal injection Wednesday, John William
King, 36, also was convicted of capital murder and sent to death row. His case
remains under appeal. A third man, Shawn Berry, 36, received a life prison
Testimony showed the three offered the 49-year-old Byrd a ride in Berry's
pickup truck early on June 7, 1998. Byrd wound up bound by his ankles with a
heavy 24½-foot logging chain attached to the bumper, bouncing from side to side
as he desperately tried to limit his injuries by lifting himself. At a sharp
left curve in the road, he whipsawed to the right and struck a concrete
A pathologist testified Byrd had been alive until there, where he was
decapitated. An investigator later would write on the road in spray paint:
Brewer told Beaumont television station KFDM from death row that he
participated in the assault on Byrd but had "nothing to do with the killing as
far as dragging him or driving the truck or anything." He told the station his
execution would be a "good out" and he's "glad it's about to come to an end."
For Jasper, the stigma survives.
"That's what they recognize," said Sheriff Mitchel Newman, who recently was
arranging a business trip through someone in Colorado who mentioned the case.
"I'll be glad when it's over. It's not fair. It makes us look like idiots."
(source: Associated Press)
Davis' case puts Georgia on death-penalty map once again
A landmark Georgia case brought about the abolition of capital punishment in
the United States, and another landmark Georgia case reinstated it. But even
with those monumental precedents on the books, no Georgia death sentence has
drawn as much international attention and controversy as the one scheduled
Wednesday night for Troy Anthony Davis.
If Davis is put to death as scheduled, the legacy of this bitterly fought case
could be the persistence of unyielding prosecutors -- and the victim's family
-- who stared down worldwide criticism and innocence claims to see his
execution carried out. It will also leave many wondering if the state executed
an innocent man.
"Justice will be done and that's what we were fighting for," said Anneliese
MacPhail, whose son was a 27-year-old Savannah police officer when he was
gunned down 22 years ago. When asked if she thinks Davis killed her son, she
answered, "There is no doubt in my mind."
Davis sits on death row for the 1989 killing of Savannah Police Officer Mark
Allen MacPhail, a former Army Ranger who was moonlighting on a security detail
when he was shot 3 times before he could draw his handgun. Today marks the
fourth execution date for Davis; on the three prior occasions, he was granted a
A decision early Tuesday by the state Board of Pardons and Paroles rejecting
pleas to halt Davis' execution appears to have all but sealed his fate. The
board has the sole authority in Georgia to grant clemency to a condemned
Still, Davis' lawyers said they plan to file last-ditch appeals today claiming
there remains new evidence that shows Davis was convicted and sentenced to
death based on misleading evidence and testimony. "I am utterly shocked and
disappointed at the failure of our justice system at all levels to correct a
miscarriage of justice," Brian Kammer, one of Davis' attorneys, said.
Davis' supporters said they would ask Chatham County prosecutors to void the
execution warrant. "This is a civil rights violation, a human rights violation
in the worst way," the Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church,
said at a Tuesday press conference.
The 5-member parole board did not disclose the breakdown of its vote. It also
did not address questions involving Davis' innocence claims or say it was
convinced beyond any doubt he is guilty.
Instead, in a statement, the board said its members "have not taken their
responsibility lightly and certainly understand the emotions attached to a
death-penalty case." The board said it considered all the information and
"deliberated thoroughly" before reaching its decision.
University of Georgia law professor Donald E. Wilkes Jr. criticized the board
for not addressing innocence claims that have attracted international concern
and support for clemency from a former president, the pope, a former FBI
director and a former chief justice of the state's highest court.
"The state of Georgia will now be exposed to criticism that it will go ahead
and execute someone even when there is a question about guilt," Wilkes said.
"That's a tragedy for everybody, including the state of Georgia."
New York attorney George Kendall, who has litigated numerous capital cases,
wondered if Georgia will someday regret having executed Davis. He noted that in
recent years, a number of governors commuted death sentences because of
lingering doubts about guilt.
"In a death penalty case, there should be no doubt about who did it," he said.
"We need to insist on guilt being very, very clear, not like this. For people
who support the death penalty, this is not a good day for the death penalty."
Since the 1991 trial, a number of key prosecution witnesses have recanted or
backed off their testimony and others have come forward saying another man at
the scene told them he was the actual trigger man. A vigorous public relations
and social media campaign on Davis' behalf, buoyed by Amnesty International and
the NAACP, spawned worldwide rallies for his cause.
Davis has mounted repeated challenges to his conviction and sentence, but
courts never found there was enough evidence to overturn them. In 2009, the
U.S. Supreme Court stepped in, directing a federal judge to consider Davis'
innocence claims. But that judge, after hearing new evidence, determined that
Davis had not clearly established he was an innocent man.
Former District Attorney Spencer Lawton, who prosecuted Davis, said the legacy
of the case will be the injustice that MacPhail's family has been forced to
"There are 2 Troy Davis cases," Lawton said. "The 1st is the case predicated on
fact and presented repeatedly in court. That battle we have won at every turn
because it is based on fact."
Lawton said he has respect for the opinions of those who familiarized
themselves with the actual record of the case and still feel there is
sufficient doubt to question the outcome. "I have no respect for those who know
the facts and have chosen to distort them," he added.
Lawton acknowledged the prosecution lost the second Troy Davis case -- "the
public relations war" -- at every turn. "I am afraid the integrity of the
criminal justice system will suffer an unfair blow through the creation not of
fact-based doubt but the appearance of doubt," he said. "The appearance of
doubt has taken on a life of its own -- as if it is doubt itself."
On Tuesday, members of the MacPhail family said they were anxious to see the
death sentence carried out.
Mark MacPhail Jr., now 22, was an infant when his father was killed and plans
to witness the execution. "Most of the people who are focused on Davis are just
against the death penalty -- they know nothing about the case," he said. "It's
painful to listen to these people put out out-and-out lies."
(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Why death penalty supporters should be campaigning for Troy Davis to be
I tell you what: if I supported the death penalty, I would want to make damn
sure that everyone who went to the chair, or the chamber or the gurney or the
noose, was guilty.
In a perverse way, you'd think it'd be more important for the pro-death penalty
lot than us antis. I think it's wrong for the state to kill anybody in cold
blood, innocent or guilty; it's a barbaric hangover from an Old Testament
morality. But if you support the death penalty, surely you want it to be
credible – a terrible judgment passed down upon the guilty, not a savage
lottery of murder.
On that basis, I would imagine that supporters of the death penalty would be up
in arms about the killing – scheduled for later today – of Troy Davis, a
42-year-old Georgia man who was convicted 20 years ago for the 1989 murder of
an off-duty police officer, Mark MacPhail. Davis was denied clemency by the
Georgia parole board yesterday.
There were 9 witnesses in the case who identified Davis as the killer. Of those
9, 7 have since recanted all or part of their testimony. One, Dorothy Ferrell,
signed an affidavit in 2000 saying she felt under pressure to identify Davis
becayse she was herself on parole. She wrote: "I told the detective that Troy
Davis was the shooter, even though the truth was that I didn't know who shot
the officer." Another, Darell Collins, signed an affidavit in 2002 recanting
his testimony and stating that the police scared him into falsely testifying by
threatening to charge him as an accessory. At a federal hearing in 2010, the
prosecution witness Antoine Williams said that he did not know who shot
MacPhail and that he had signed police statements he was unable to read because
he was illiterate. 2 others, Jeffrey Sapp and Kevin MacQueen, said at the same
hearing that Davis had not confessed to them, despite saying as much in the
original trial. In all 6 have said that the police threatened them if they did
not identify Davis as the killer.
9 people have also signed affidavits stating that Sylvester "Redd" Coles, a
friend of Davis's who was there the night MacPhail was killed, in fact
committed the murder. At the 2010 hearing a witness, Anthony Hargrove,
testified that Mr Coles had confessed the killing to him. Of the two witnesses
who have not recanted their testimony, one is Mr Coles. Mr Coles was the first
person to tell the police that Troy Davis was the shooter. There was no
physical evidence linking Davis to the murder and the murder weapon was never
As The New York Times reports in an editorial this morning, "the grievous
errors in the Davis case were numerous, and many arose out of eyewitness
identification". The police re-enacted the crime with four witnesses were
present, giving them with group memory of the supposed events rather than
individual ones; some witnesses saw Davis's photo before being shown the
identification lineup images, and Davis's lineup image was on a different
background. The lineup was administered by an investigating police officer, who
could (deliberately or otherwise) easily influence the witnesses.
I'm not saying that Davis is innocent. I don't know. But it is painfully clear
that there is, by any standard, "reasonable doubt" about the conviction; enough
for His Holiness the Pope and for Archbishop Desmond Tutu to appeal for
clemency, as well as 51 members of Congress, President Jimmy Carter, Britain
and the EU, and a former FBI director. Yet no reprieve has been granted. Troy
Davis will, barring dramatic intervention, die today.
It would be far from the first time a major travesty of justice took place on
death row. Last year Rick Perry, Governor of Texas and now a front-runner for
the Republican nomination for President, granted a posthumous pardon to Tim
Cole, who died of an asthma attack on death row after spending 13 years there
for rape before being exonerated by DNA evidence. In total, according to a
study by the Northwestern University School of Law Center on Wrongful
Convictions, at least 39 executions have been carried out in the face of
serious doubts over their guilt; more than 15 have been exonerated while on
death row since 1992.
We already know that the death penalty in America is disproportionately likely
to be used against black people (a 2007 study conducted by Yale University
School of Law found that black people in Connecticut are three times as likely
to receive the death penalty than white people in cases where the victim is
white) and the poor than against white or rich people who have committed the
same crime. But it would be nice to think that those people are, as well as
being poor and black, demonstrably guilty. That seems like a reasonable
If you are pro-death penalty, you should be shouting twice as loud as the rest
of us about the imminent murder of Troy Davis. Otherwise, you can't claim to be
supporting a stark but necessary act of justice. You're just a fan of killing
people in general. There are words for people like that. None of them are nice.
(source: Tom Chivers, The Telegraph)
Not In Our Name: Georgia Must Not Execute Troy Davis----Resisting Troy’s
Planned Execution with Every Moment Left
We are going into a difficult day. Today the state of Georgia is gearing up to
execute Troy Davis. However, we have not been sitting quietly by here in
Atlanta and everywhere worldwide.
When I learned the stunning news Tuesday morning, I paused for a moment to
absorb the gravity of the two-word text message I had just read: “Clemency
Denied.” But there was no time for reflection; we called for a “Day of Protest”
and called on everyone with the power to act to do so. Around 700 people last
night on the capitol steps for an energetic protest, chanting “Not in my name!”
Today is a “Day of Vigil.” We encourage you to make it known that you will not
passively accept Georgia’s planned killing of Troy Davis at 7pm. Wear a black
armband and write “Not in my name!” on it. Tell people about Troy Davis and why
we must abolish the death penalty. If we have not managed to stop the execution
by 6pm, gather with others in vigil.
The state of Georgia is about to do something horrific. It is prepared to kill
a person who may well be innocent. Human life and human rights are on the line.
The reputation of the state of Georgia is on the line. The confidence of
Georgians and Americans in their justice system is on the line.
The state of Georgia has proven our point: the death penalty is too great a
power to give to the government. Human institutions are too prone to bias and
error to be entrusted with this God-like power. The death penalty is a human
rights violation whether given to the guilty or the innocent and it must be
While we have time, let us not let the committee of Pontius Pilots off the
hook! We want to appeal to anyone who has any direct power or influence to act
to prevent this execution. If those you appeal to try to claim, “I don’t have
the power to intervene,” Remind them that they do have power, even if it is
through their influence and not their legal authority.
Here’s what you can do:
Fax or call the Parole Board and ask them to reconsider their decision and
grant Troy clemency. Fax: 404-651-8502 and 404-651-6670 (try both as they will
be busy), Phone: 404-656-0693 and 404-656-5651
Fax or call the Savannah District Attorney, Larry Chisolm, and ask him to urge
the local judge to vacate the execution warrant. Fax: 912-652-7328, Phone:
Call the local judge, Penny Haas Freesman, and ask her to vacate the warrant.
Phone: (912) 652-7252
Call the Governor, Nathan Deal, and ask him to use his influence to encourage
the board to grant clemency. Phone: 404-656-1776.
In Georgia, stand with us, saying “NOT IN MY NAME!”
a) Capitol vigil – 6pm
b) Prison vigil – 5:30pm across the street from the prison at Towaliga County
Line Baptist Church (153 Short Road, Jackson). Take I-75 to Exit 201 and head
toward the Hess gas station (turn left (east) off the interstate if heading
south on I-75) on Barnesville-Jackson Rd. (Ga 36) and turn right past the gas
This is a time to be heard, not a time to submit. And please remain respectful
to those who answer the phones. There is no need to be rude or to yell – the
strength of our message will come through the volume of calls we generate, not
in the decibels of our individual voices.
The thought of what may happen at 7pm tonight is outrageous, but it is all the
more reason to continue to have hope, to continue to take action, and to
continue to fight against the unjust death penalty.
(source: Laura Moye, Amnesty International USA blog)
Troy Davis: Execution Day
Hours before Troy Davis' scheduled execution, his attorneys are trying some
Davis is set to be put death at 7 p.m. Wednesday for the 1989 murder of
off-duty Savannah Police officer Mark MacPhail. This is the 4th time in 4 years
the state has tried to execute Davis.
His lawyers have few options left to try to save his life:
1.Defense attorney Brian Kammer will ask a Butts County Superior Court judge to
block the execution, arguing the ballistic testing that linked Davis to the
shooting was flawed. The Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison, where
Davis sits on death row, is located in Butts County, in the city of Jackson.
2.Davis supporters plan to present more than 240,000 petition signatures to
Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm to ask him to intervene and
request that Davis' death warrant be revoked. MacPhail was killed in Chatham
3.Davis' attorneys will ask the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to
reconsider their decision Tuesday to deny clemency.
A request by Davis' lawyers for the Georgia Department of Corrections to allow
Davis to submit to a polygraph examination in prison to try to prove his
innocence has already been denied. Defense attorneys had wanted assurances that
the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles would review the results.
Davis' supporters have also considered asking President Obama or the Supreme
Court to intervene and stop the execution.
Legal experts call the last-ditch appeals long-shots.
In Georgia, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles has exclusive authority to
grant clemency to death row inmates. By law, Governor Nathan Deal cannot grant
Officer Mark MacPhail's son, 22-year-old Mark MacPhail, Jr., plans to serve as
a prosecution witness to the execution. 5 members of the media will also watch
as Davis is put to death by lethal injection.
Davis is now under what the Georgia Department of Corrections calls a "Death
Watch" to make sure he doesn't do anything to harm himself.
He will have 6 hours to spend with his family members in a special visitation,
and he'll have a chance to record a final statement.
Davis declined to request a special last meal and instead will be offered the
institution's meal tray, consisting of grilled cheeseburgers, oven browned
potatoes, baked beans, coleslaw, cookies and grape beverage.
If executed, Davis will be the 29th inmate put to death by lethal injection.
There have been 51 men executed in Georgia since the U.S. Supreme Court
reinstated the death penalty in 1973. There are presently 99 men and 1 woman on
Georgia's death row.
Davis' attorneys and supporters had pinned most of their hopes on his clemency
hearing Monday, arguing that Davis shouldn't be put to death for a murder he
In the years since Davis' conviction, 7 of 9 prosecution witnesses linking
Davis to Officer MacPhail's murder have either changed or recanted their
"There's doubt here," said Davis' sister Martina Correia. "You can't make
mistakes. You have to be sure because you can't go backwards."
But a prosecutor who handled the case against Davis 20 years ago said he has no
"The appearance of doubt has been manufactured by the defense," Spencer Lawton,
who is now retired, told 11Alive's Brenda Wood in a rare interview Tuesday
"In every case where the issue has been in court, we've won," Lawton said,
calling the recantations "valueless as evidence."
Supporters speak out
As the clock ticks closer to Davis' scheduled execution, his supporters have
taken to the streets and social media to speak out.
#TroyDavis and #TooMuchDoubt were trending topics on Twitter Tuesday and
Wednesday with high profile tweets from the likes of Amnesty International to
Atlanta hip hop artist Big Boi of Outkast tweeted, "We don't need a trending
topic, we need boots on the ground, meet me in Jackson Georgia 40 miles outside
Georgia state senator Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) called for a strike and sick-out
by staff members at the prison in Jackson.
"I say to the prison staff: If you work on that day, you will enable the prison
to carry out the execution of a possibly innocent man," Fort said in his
The Davis case even came up during Monday afternoon's White House Daily
Briefing, when White House Press Secretary Jay Carney answered questions
regarding the president's position on the death penalty in general and the
Davis case in particular.
"The president has written that he believes the death penalty does little to
deter crime but that some crimes merit the ultimate punishment," Carney said.
"Some of you may also recall that when the president was in the Illinois State
Senate, he worked across the aisle to find common ground. With regard to this
specific case, I haven't talked to the president about that, and I would refer
questions about it to the Department of Justice."
The president does not have the power to stop Davis' execution, but he could
ask the Justice Department to take action.
Is Georgia Ready to Execute an Innocent Man?
I read the papers this morning online searching for this story about Troy
Davis. When I read the news that the Georgia Board of Pardons did not grant
clemency and that Davis was set to be executed on Wednesday September 21 I
swallowed hard. I had not followed this case closely until recently. My work in
the last 19 years has been focused on reforming the justice system through
advocating for restorative justice. However, in recent years I have met
innocent men who were on death row for crimes they did not commit. They are the
lucky ones; they're alive to tell their stories. I have met even more victims
of violent crime whose loved ones have been murdered around the United States
who are increasingly raising their voices against the death penalty. Many of
those same crime victims are strong advocates for restorative justice.
Troy Davis's case is one where doubts remain regarding his guilt. Seven out of
nine witnesses have recanted their stories fingering Davis as the killer. Some
of those witnesses apparently testified against Davis due to harassment by the
prosecution or law enforcement. There is no DNA evidence available to test.
Even ballistic evidence is questionable. Yet, Georgia is ready to execute this
man unless another court intervenes.
In June of 2011 I moderated a crime victims roundtable on restorative justice
at Campbell University School of Law in North Carolina. At that national
restorative justice conference I met a man named Franky Carrillo. He sat in the
audience of my roundtable. I looked out at the audience and thought I
recognized his face. After the event I learned why. His story had been in the
Los Angeles Times a couple of months before. Franky had been exonerated after
some 20 years of incarceration in a California prison. He was now a free man. I
was so excited to see him and rejoiced at his freedom and seeing him at this
conference. How many more like Franky are there? How many more innocent people
sit on death row in America? Is Troy Davis one of them?
I think it is hard not to conclude that he is one of those innocent men. Since
I work with crime victims around this country and globally I am saddened by the
pain of the victims' family in this case. They seek an end to their pain, pain
they have felt since their loved one was murdered. They seek peace. But as I
have learned from so many victims and those who have been exonerated, one thing
they will not get is peace if the wrong person is executed for a crime he did
not commit. Those who speak out against this execution seek justice.
Restorative justice cannot be applied when an innocent man is imprisoned, and
let alone executed if he is not the guilty party. There will be no restoration
or healing of the victim. There will be no offender accountability if the wrong
man is executed. If reading this story makes you anxious and unsettled, it
(source: Lisa rea, RestorativeJustice.org)
ABA President Robinson Statement on Denial of Clemency for Troy Davis
Protection of the innocent is one of the legal profession’s most serious
obligations. That obligation has life-and-death consequences when the death
penalty is at issue.
The American Bar Association previously urged the Georgia Board of Pardons and
Paroles to grant clemency to Troy Davis, in part because the ABA has identified
serious, longstanding concerns with the fair administration of Georgia’s death
penalty. Many of these problems were present at the time of the investigation
and prosecution of Mr. Davis’ case, and persisted through every stage of
appeal. Serious doubts about Mr. Davis’ guilt and the fairness of his trial
have also been raised by many national and international organizations and
individuals. Deciding not to execute Mr. Davis will serve justice by
reaffirming that the justice system does not utilize the death penalty for
anyone whose guilt is reasonably in question.
The ABA has no position for or against the death penalty itself. But the
association’s decades of work, its policies and the commitment to justice by
all its members strongly indicate that Mr. Davis’ execution should not be
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest
voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national
voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of
justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work,
accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build
public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.
(source: ABA Now; Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III, president of the American Bar
Board denies request for clemency reconsideration; Davis denied polygraph test
The Board of Pardons and Paroles received a request from the representatives of
Troy Anthony Davis requesting the Board reconsider its decision to deny
clemency to Davis.
The Board denied the request to reconsider the decision made Tuesday, denying
clemency to Davis.
Attorneys for Davis also requested permission to give him a polygraph test
before his scheduled execution.
A defense attorney said Georgia prison officials have blocked that request.
Additionally, Davis' attorneys have filed a last-minute appeal to halt his
The attorneys filed the appeal in Butts County Superior Court, south of
Atlanta. Butts County is the home of the prison where Davis sits on death row.
The appeal asks a judge to block the execution, which is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Wednesday. The appeal argues that ballistic testing that linked Davis to the
shooting was flawed.
Davis was convicted in 1991 and sentenced to death in the 1989 killing of Mark
MacPhail, an off-duty police officer who was working a side job as a security
guard in Savannah when he was shot and killed while rushing to help a homeless
man who had been attacked.
It's not clear whether the appeal in Butts County would be effective. MacPhail
was killed in Chatham County. All of Davis's appeals there have been exhausted.
Davis' supporters are planning to rally at the prison in Jackson in the hours
leading up to his death.
Davis didn't request a special last meal. He planned to spend his final hours
meeting with friends, family and supporters.
Ga DA says he's powerless to stop Davis execution
A Georgia prosecutor being pressured to halt the execution of convicted
murderer Troy Anthony Davis says he's powerless to interfere.
Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm issued a statement Tuesday night
saying he has no power to withdraw the execution order for Davis, which was
issued by a Superior Court judge. Chisolm says the matter is beyond his
Davis is scheduled to die by lethal injection Wednesday night for the 1989
slaying of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail. Georgia's pardons
board refused to grant him clemency Tuesday, prompting calls by Davis'
supporters to call on Chisolm to stop the execution.
(source: Associated Press)
US death row inmate Troy Davis issues parting cry
CONVICTED murderer Troy Davis has issued a parting cry to death penalty
abolitionists urging them to continue the battle after he is executed tonight,
Amnesty International says.
"The struggle for justice doesn't end with me," Davis said in a letter to
supporters released to the public via Amnesty International USA, which posted
it on Facebook and on its website.
"This struggle is for all the Troy Davis who came before me and all the ones
who will come after me," he said.
"I'm in good spirits and I'm prayerful and at peace. But I will not stop
fighting until I've taken my last breath."
A US parole board denied clemency today to Davis, clearing the way for his
execution tomorrow in a racially charged case that has become an international
cause celebre for death penalty opponents.
Davis, who is black, was convicted 20 years ago of the fatal 1989 shooting of
27-year-old white police officer Mark MacPhail, a married father of a
2-year-old girl and an infant boy.
MacPhail had been working nights as a security guard when he intervened in a
brawl in a Burger King parking lot in Savannah, Georgia and was shot in the
heart and the head at point-blank range.
There was no physical evidence tying Davis, who was 20 at the time of the
murder, to the crime and several witnesses at his original trial later recanted
During two decades of legal jousting, the campaign to spare his life drew
high-profile support from former US president Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict
XVI, helping Davis escape three previous dates with death.
Some 2000 protesters gathered, at Amnesty's urging, at the Georgia state
capitol today, 24 hours before Davis is due to become the 34th person executed
in the United States this year.
The family of the victim have insisted the execution go ahead with MacPhail's
daughter telling journalists emotionally how Davis had robbed her of a life
with her father.
(source: Agence France-Presse)
Did Troy Davis death-penalty case expose flaws in 'executive clemency'?----The
Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles stood firmly behind the 1991 murder
conviction that put Troy Davis on death row. But the many doubts in the case
have raised questions about 'executive clemency' as a fail-safe for the death
Unreliable eyewitnesses, the impact of race on a jury in the Deep South, the
difficulty of proving innocence once convicted: Troy Davis's long journey
through the US judicial system has hit nearly every sensitive button in
America's complex relationship with the death penalty.
On Tuesday, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles declined a final clemency
bid by Mr. Davis, 42, who has spent 20 years on death row for the murder of an
off-duty Savannah, Ga., police officer in 1989. The board reaffirmed the
validity of the original conviction by a jury of his peers. His execution by
lethal injection is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday.
But to many legal experts, doubts raised about Davis's guilt after his
conviction raise new questions about the Supreme Court's determination that
so-called "executive clemency" – the power of a governor or review board to
commute a death row sentence – is an adequate fail-safe for assessing death-row
"If a case like this doesn't result in clemency, which is a discretionary
process that calls a halt to an execution based on doubt surrounding the
integrity of the verdict, then it suggests that clemency as a traditional
fail-safe is not adequate," says James Acker, a criminologist at SUNY-Albany.
"The Davis case raises doubts about the discretionary clemency process and
ultimately raises doubts about whether the legal system can tolerate this
potential error in allowing a person to be executed."
While the number of people executed in the United States has dwindled steadily
over the past 15 years, a majority of Americans – about 64 percent – still
support the death penalty. At a recent GOP presidential candidate debate, a
crowd cheered when Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the current Republican frontrunner,
noted the 234 executions carried out under his watch.
But also this summer, an Arkansas judge allowed a complex legal maneuver to
free 3 men known as the West Memphis 3, including 1 who was on death row, for
the murder of 3 boys 18 years ago. Moreover, North Carolina, once one of the
most active death-penalty states, currently has a moratorium on the sanction.
"The death penalty is really fading in the United States, and there is a lot of
disagreement about why that is, but certainly, (there are) fewer executions
than there used to be," said the New Yorker's legal writer, Jeffrey Toobin, in
a CNN interview Tuesday. "But this one does appear to be going forward, even
with all the protests."
DNA-based death row exonerations have influenced the public's view, but the
Troy Davis case rises to the top of the death-penalty debate for several
reasons. For one, he is arguably the best-known person on any US death row, and
the show of public support for a new trial has been unprecedented, with nearly
700,000 people petitioning the parole board. Global figures like Pope Benedict
XVI, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former President Jimmy Carter, and even
death-penalty supporters like former Congressman Bob Barr, all urged the parole
board to either commute his sentence or give him a new trial.
In an indication of the seriousness of the doubts about the case, the US
Supreme Court in 2009 transferred Davis's writ of habeas corpus, or request for
relief from unlawful imprisonment, to a US District Court – the first time it
had granted such a request in half a century. Two dissenting justices, Antonin
Scalia and Clarence Thomas, called the ruling a "fool's errand."
The federal judge assigned to the case, Judge William T. Moore of the US
District Court of Southern Georgia, concluded in 2010 that new evidence and
testimony, including that 7 of 9 witnesses had changed or recanted testimony,
wasn't enough to prove his innocence. “The state’s case may not be ironclad,
[but] most reasonable jurors would again vote to convict Mr. Davis," Judge
Moore wrote in his ruling.
In 1993, the US Supreme Court ruled in Herrera v. Collins that an individual’s
provable innocence isn't, by constitutional standards, enough for courts to
grant a new trial. The ruling put the onus on discretionary state-by-state
executive clemency procedures – whether by extrajudicial boards or governors –
as the "fail-safe."
"I really think that the decision made in Georgia puts the assumption that
executive clemency is a fail-safe in so much doubt that it ought to stimulate
the legal system … to revise, reform, revisit the formal legal process that
results in convictions and allows sentences of death," says SUNY-Albany’s Mr.
Acker. "In this case, the clemency process has failed."
The Georgia parole board noted that it has commuted three death sentences since
2000, and said in a statement that its five members "considered the totality of
the evidence" and that members "have not taken their responsibility lightly."
The family of the slain police officer, Mark MacPhail, said that Davis and his
family had duped people into believing in his innocence. "We know what the
truth is," MacPhail's widow, Joan MacPhail-Harris, told CNN. "And for someone
to ludicrously say that he is a victim – we are victims. Look at us. We have
put up with this stuff for 22 years. It's time for justice. We need our
But others believe Davis's claims of innocence and the substantial doubts about
whether a jury today would find him guilty present the US with a moral quandary
that could reflect more broadly on the death penalty.
"At its core, I think this case represents a serious moral issue," Rev. Raphael
Warnock of the Ebenezer Baptist Church told the Christian Post. "If we're able
to execute a man with this much doubt, that is not good for our moral health."
(source: USA Today)
More information about the DeathPenalty