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Don’t Kill Another Innocent Man – Troy Davis given execution date!

Troy Davis in the Chatham County Superior Court during his trail in the shooting death of off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail. (AP Photo/Savannah Morning News)

by Emily Hauser

Troy Davis, the death row inmate about whom I wrote last week, has been given an execution date of September 21.

I repeat: Mr. Davis is almost certainly innocent of the crime for which the state of Georgia wants to kill him.

There is no physical evidence connecting him to the crime, seven out of the nine eyewitnesses have recanted, stating that they had been pressured, coerced or frightened into testifying, and jury members have said flat out: “If I knew then what I know now, Troy Davis would not be on death row.”

The police officer that Mr. Davis was convicted of murdering deserves that justice be done — but killing a man who had nothing to do with Officer MacPhail’s death will only compound the injustice horribly.

Please, please:

  1. If you haven’t signed the Amnesty petition yet, please do so by clicking here.
  2. If you are a member of the legal profession or clergy, please join the sign-on letters being circulated in support of Mr. Davis’s request for clemency. Legal professionals click here; clergy, click here.
  3. Write a letter to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (address and sample letter below): In this case, it will be important not to state your conviction that Mr. Davis is innocent, but that there are too many doubts to move forward with the execution. In the words of a Georgia law professor: “A verdict that is not ironclad is not good enough to support the death penalty.”
  4. Write a letter to Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles (address and sample letter below): Here again, it is important to focus on the holes in the case — the fact that anything less than an ironclad verdict cannot be the basis for the death penalty.
  5. Watch the following video, regarding clemency for Troy, and pass it on– “The State of Georgia does not have to execute Troy Davis and it should not execute Troy Davis,” in the words of Prof Russell Covey, Criminal Law Expert, Georgia State University. “There is one fail-safe built into the system that still exists, and that’s the clemency process.”
  6. ASK OTHERS TO DO LIKEWISE, particularly citizens of Georgia. Send a link to this post, or to any of the above information, and ask your friends and loved ones to take action. Twitter and Facebook are great ways to spread news far and wide — if you are on either, please use them in support of Troy.

There is no other way to put this: There is a very real possibility that Troy Davis will be dead before the month is out, killed for a crime that he didn’t commit. Please do whatever you can to save his life.


Sample letter to Governor Deal (if you are a member of the legal profession or clergy, please say so in your letter):

Governor Nathan Deal
203 State Capitol SW
Atlanta, GA 30334

Dear Governor Deal,

I write to you today with regard to the case of Troy Davis, convicted of the murder of Police Officer Mark MacPhail twenty years ago.

The murder of Officer MacPhail was a horrifying crime, one for which his family surely deserves to see justice done. But given the fact that the case against Mr. Davis has unraveled over the years, I simply cannot believe that executing Mr. Davis would do anything but add injustice to the world.

Surely the death penalty should only be brought to bear against those against whom the state has an ironclad case, and the case against Mr. Davis has unraveled badly. There is no physical evidence linking Mr. Davis to the crime, seven out of the nine eyewitnesses have recanted, and many witnesses have implicated another man all together, someone reported to have boasted of the crime to friends — one of the original witnesses. There are scores of unresolved questions about what happened the night of the murder, and only one thing is clear: There is overwhelming doubt.

Under such circumstances, the state simply does not have enough clarity to justify a death sentence, and to move forward with the execution of Mr. Davis at this time would not only be a subversion of justice, but it would be a gross disservice to the citizens of Georgia and the United States who depend upon their justice system to be genuinely fair.

I in no way seek to deny or diminish the pain and suffering the MacPhail family has endured, but executing Troy Davis will not bring them justice. Please act quickly to grant Mr. Davis clemency.



Sample letter to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles (if you are a member of the legal profession or clergy, please say so in your letter):

Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE
Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909.

To the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles,

In the interest of justice, I appeal to you to grant clemency to Troy Davis, who is currently scheduled to be executed on September 21.  He was sentenced to death in 1991 for the murder of Police Officer Mark MacPhail.

I am deeply concerned that Mr. Davis may be executed despite serious doubts regarding his guilt, and the fact that the case against him has steadily unraveled over the years. There is no physical evidence linking Mr. Davis to the crime, seven out of nine eyewitnesses have recanted, and many witnesses have implicated another man all together, someone reported to have boasted of the crime to friends — one of the original witnesses. There are scores of unresolved questions about what happened the night of the murder, and only one thing is clear: There is overwhelming doubt.

The murder of Officer MacPhail was tragic, and I in no way seek to deny or diminish the pain and suffering the MacPhail family has endured, but executing Troy Davis will not bring them justice. Please act quickly to grant Mr. Davis clemency.



September 9, 2011 - Posted by | Justice System | ,


  1. I signed. Love how these Pro-Life Republicans are so Pro-death after certain people are born. Saw a picture in my paper today of Gov. Rick Perry meeting an adoring fan, an old white woman wearing a T-Shirt with the message, “I’m a God fearin’, Bible believin’, Gun totin’ AMERICAN!” I bet she loves the death penalty, God bless her!!!

    Gov. Perry probably put at least one innocent man to death in Texas and if DNA hadn’t cleared Anthony Graves two years ago, he would have been Perry’s #235 killed by the state under his name in the past 10 years. Graves lived on death row for 18 years closing in on his final date for a crime he did not commit. Graves sued the state for false imprisonment and Perry and the Republican super-majority here tried their best to deny him any compensation for his lost 18 years.

    Comment by grantinhouston | September 9, 2011 | Reply

  2. I signed the petition. Its time to let this guy go or at least review the evidence and I’m disgusted with Georgia for appearing so utterly corrupt.

    Comment by jeff | September 9, 2011 | Reply

    • They have reviewed the evidence several times. They last special hearing was in June 2010. The judge who listened to testimony for two days said he was still guilty. Have you spent two days looking at the evidence?

      Comment by GeorgiaNative | September 10, 2011 | Reply

  3. Thank you for posting what else we can do to make a difference. I signed the petitions long ago, but I didn’t know if the parole board would look at letters. I will write ASAP and have already encouraged my Facebookers to do the same.

    Comment by Kristen | September 10, 2011 | Reply

  4. Troy Anthony Davis will be killed by the State of Georgia at 7 p.m. on September 21, 2011 for allegedly killing a Savannah police officer.

    There is no physical evidence that Davis shot the officer. The gun was never recovered, and 6 of the 9 eyewitnesses who testified against Davis have since recanted their stories.


    With similar lack of evidence, a pretty young white girl in Florida is now on probation in the murder of her toddler daughter.

    Comment by grantinhouston | September 10, 2011 | Reply

    • You don’t know what you are talking about. First, these witnesses did not recant their testimony in court. They did it with Troy’s Lawyer. They had an opportunity to recant in court in 2009 and did not. Below are all statements and news reports from this case.

      On August 28, 1991, the jury, composed of seven blacks and five whites, took under two hours to find Davis guilty on one count of murder and the other offenses.

      A neighbor of the Davis family, Jeffrey Sapp, testified that soon after the murder Davis had confessed to him.[31] Kevin McQueen, a former fellow prisoner, testified that Davis had confessed to shooting MacPhail as he feared that the officer would connect him to the shooting of Cooper earlier in the evening.[32] Cooper testified that he was inebriated when shot and said that Davis “don’t know me well enough to shoot me”.

      The U.S. Supreme Court in 2009 agreed he should have the rare chance to argue he was innocent before a federal judge. It was the first time in at least 50 years that the court had granted an American death row inmate such an innocence hearing.
      During two days of testimony in June 2010, U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. heard from two witnesses who said they falsely incriminated Davis and two others who said another man had confessed to being MacPhail’s killer in the years since Davis’ trial.
      But Moore concluded in August that several of the witnesses had already backed off their incriminating statements during the 1991 trial — so it wasn’t new evidence — and that others simply couldn’t be believed. He ruled that while the evidence casts some additional doubt on the conviction, “it is largely smoke and mirrors” and not nearly strong enough to prove Davis’ innocence.

      Davis was given an opportunity to present new evidence at a hearing in federal court in Savannah in June 2010, but he put on only a paucity of testimony. He did not take the stand in his defense and did not call Sylvester Coles as a witness. He also did not call some of the other witnesses who had given affidavits on his behalf, even though some of them were present in the courthouse. Savannah journalist Patrick Rodgers characterized the hearing as a defeat for Davis, commenting, “Although the defense team had been arguing for a hearing like this since they took over the case.”

      They didn’t get on the stand because they were lying when they recanted. Davis didn’t take the stand because guilty criminals don’t want to be cross-examined.

      Finally, that pretty white girl got off because the jury is stupid. There was not lack of evidence as you say. If you believe that you either don’t pay attention or are really dumb.

      Comment by GeorgiaNative | September 10, 2011 | Reply

  5. Texas executed a black man Tuesday night, Steven Michael Woods Jr, who didn’t actually kill anyone. However, he was an accomplice to a crime where the guy who admitted killing two people got LIFE in prison instead because he entered into a plea bargain and didn’t go to trial.

    The last words of Woods (AKA #235) were “You’re not about to witness an execution. You are about to witness a murder,”


    Gov. Perry’s #236 is to be killed tonight by the State of Texas. Duane Buck was convicted in 1997 in a trial where an expert witness, a psychologist, impermissibly told jurors that ,B.Buck “would be more dangerous in the future because he is black”.

    In 2000, then Republican Texas Attorney General John Cornyn (now U.S. Senator) pulled this case aside to study saying that “it is inappropriate to allow race to be considered as a factor in our criminal justice system.”


    All bets are off that Gov. Rick Perry (who said at the debate this week that he RESPECTS all life) will lift a finger to prevent tonight’s state killing. It would hurt his image as a “manly man”.

    Comment by grantinhouston | September 15, 2011 | Reply

  6. Georgia is going ahead with their LEGAL lynching tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. EDT. It doesn’t matter…

    ….that of the nine people who who once testified (some later claiming under police coercion) they “saw” a black man, Troy Davis, in near darkness at midnight in a Burger King parking lot kill white Savannah Police Officer Mark MacPhail,….that seven have since publicly recanted their testimony (beginning in the year 2000, not just recently as the vengeful mother of PacPhail now claims).

    ….that, beyond the eyewitnesses in near darkness, there was no physical evidence linking Troy to Officer MacPhail’s murder. None.

    ….that, three jurors have signed affidavits saying that if they had had all this information about Troy in the courtroom, they would not have voted to convict.

    ….that one juror even arrived in person to the Board of Pardons and Paroles to say to their faces that she would not have voted to convict if she’d had the facts.

    ….that, another woman even came forward to say that a different man on the scene that night, Sylvester “Redd” Coles, bragged afterward about doing the shooting. And it was Coles who first went to the police and pinned the crime on Davis. Of the two witnesses who still maintain that Troy was the triggerman, one is Sylvester “Redd” Coles.


    BTW, Cole admitted owning a .38 caliber handgun but it was never tested as he claimed that earlier the night of the police shooting, he “gave it away”. He was a felon and by law should not have had a gun in his possession. Since that night Coles has been in numerous thug fights, had many arrests on a variety of charges, and even was shot in the chest once in a fight.

    It doesn’t matter that…..

    ….Pope Benedict XVI, former President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sister Helen Prejean, Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher, President Ronald Reagan’s former FBI Director, William Sessions, and over one million people world-wide have signed petitions, the call to spare Troy’s life falls on the deaf ears of the Board of Pardons and Paroles (3 white 2 black) who don’t seem to care if they murder a man who may actually be INNOCENT.

    Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Rick Perry will add two more notches to his gun before the end of September, killing FOUR men this month, alone, giving him a grand total of 238 killed under his watch. Of course Perry claims ALL were guilty without a doubt.

    Comment by grantinhouston | September 20, 2011 | Reply

  7. The SUPREMES gave a thumbs down allowing Georgia to go ahead and kill Troy Davis tonight. No surprise that the REICH-wing majority in the court will condone a state lynching. Nobody talks about the racism involved here. Add Georgia to Arizona as another state I won’t visit and spend my money. It’s bad enough I live in Rick Perry’s Texas.

    The white family of the murdered cop MacPhail are screaming for Davis’s death and whether or not he is guilty doesn’t seem to bother them….they want “closure”. In contrast, in Texas tonight, Lawrence Brewer, one of the three white supremacists was put to death. He was one of three white men who helped to chain a black James Byrd to the bumper of their pickup, dragging him down a blacktop road for a few miles until a culvert decapitated him. Byrd was only walking down a road minding his business until the racists picked him out to murder. In this case, the Byrd family begged for the white murderer to NOT be put to death even though Brewer had no remorse for murdering Byrd right up to his last visits on death row. Another of the racists involved is still on Death Row and the third got life in a plea bargain for turning state’s evidence.

    Comment by grantinhouston | September 21, 2011 | Reply

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