One of the major problems I have with the death penalty is not only is it being unequally applied, now that we have wider use of DNA evidence in criminal cases it has freed over 90 people from death rows around the nation who were sentenced to death for crimes they were eventually exonerated from.
And we may have had an instance here in Texas in which an innocent man was executed in 2004 by Gov. Rick Perry (R).
I have been keeping an eye on the Troy Anthony Davis case in Georgia since I became aware of it.. He was tried and convicted in August 1991 of murder in the August 19, 1989 death of Savannah, GA police office Mark McPhail, who was off duty working a second job as a Burger King security guard at the time. He was sentenced to death in that case by a jury comprised of seven African-Americans and five whites, but doubts about Davis’ guilt have lingered since then.
He’s received three stays of execution because of those doubts about his guilt. All but two of the witnesses have recanted testimony while others have in later hearings given testimony that didn’t line up with what was said in the original 1991 trial.
In addition, the NAACP, Amnesty International, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament are among the organizations and individuals pushing the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to ask for clemency on Davis’ behalf. They are supported in the effort by a long list of people such as Pope Benedict XVI, former FBI director William Sessions, former congressman Bob Barr (R-GA), Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Rep Jesse Jackson, Jr (D-IL) and Nobel laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former President Jimmy Carter and Jose Ramos Horta. During his September 6 hearing Larry Cox, the executive director for AIUSA said,. “The Board stayed Davis’ execution in 2007, stating that capital punishment was not an option when doubts about guilt remained.” he said “Since then two more execution dates have come and gone, and there is still little clarity, much less proof, that Davis committed any crime. Amnesty International respectfully asks the Board to commute Davis’ sentence to life and prevent Georgia from making a catastrophic mistake.”.
Davis is facing another setting of an execution date between September 21-28 if this latest effort fails. Amnesty International and the NAACP both have online petitions you can sign that will hopefully persuade the Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute his sentence.
The NAACP petition has garnered over 50,000 signatures since I compiled this post..
This fight for justice for Troy Davis has been a long, arduous one. We want to ensure that if he is innocent, they go through the evidence and determine that. We don’t need a rush to judgment that could result in another possibly innocent man being executed like Rick Perry may have done here in Texas to Cameron Todd Willingham. .
TransGriot Note: Troy Davis’ execution date has been set for September 21.