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September 20, 2011


Troy Davis – Denied Clemency

by Andrea O'Connell

The unthinkable is going to occur tomorrow night unless something miraculous happens.  (I have trouble thinking about this without shaking inside.)

I got word that Troy Davis was denied clemency in the middle of teaching class.  I didn’t do a very good job of hiding my feelings when I saw the text message.  My class wanted to know what was going on.  I told them, and they all knew about the case, and all but one person was very upset.  One woman in my class told us that if we’d had someone in our family die a horrendous death, as she had, we’d feel differently about the death penalty.

I wanted to argue with her, but couldn’t – I didn’t want to diminish what she went through, certainly.   And I wanted to tell her that despite this, I would never ask that someone be murdered, but I didn’t.  I just listened and felt her incredible pain.  Her beautiful fourteen year old niece was raped by five animals (I cannot call them “men” they are animals),  and then shot to death.

In this case, twenty years ago, a white police officer, Officer Mark MacPhail, was killed – shot twice in the course of duty.  The Savannah Georgia authorities were frantic to hold someone responsible and placed the gun that was never found, in the hands of Troy Davis.

Save Troy Davis Image credit: NAACP

No physical evidence of any kind was found.  No DNA, no finger prints, soiled clothes, etc.  Nothing was found other than eye witnesses.

This case was solely about eye-witness accounts – the WORST evidence in a trial.  Why is it the worst?   Because people are people and they make mistakes.   People like you and me always want to be seen in the best light; we want to be as honest as we can, and we try our best to do the right thing.  That can be problematic when Police are under enormous pressure to close a case.

The police in the Casey Anthony case were, in my opinion, the best of the best.  But, not all police are on the side of finding the truth. And, some reports I have read indicated the police were not honest.

Police can get eye witnesses to agree to anything simply by how they position a photo lay-out, or how they use their body language to suggest one suspects picture over another.

Sadly, there have been stories of police misconduct – how they will use any trick in the book to nail a suspect.  They lie, they use coercion, or use suggestions to try to close the case.   But, it’s not only because of shady police involvement in what eye witnesses say, it’s also because we humans are fickle and our memory changes as time passes.   In this case, as many as seven people recanted, saying they were mistaken when they initially identified Troy Davis as the shooter.

I don’t know one way or another what the truth is in the Troy Davis case.   BUT, I have enough faith in the people involved in this case to believe that if this execution happens tomorrow, it will be an enormous travesty of justice.  The fact that many thousands of people across this country believe there is enough doubt that Troy Davis is responsible for the murder, could give the justice system more than a black eye, in the long run.

Is our justice system breaking or broken?  The Casey Anthony case is fresh in the minds of millions of Americans.  Clearly she had culpability in the murder of her daughter, but was found not guilty.  We like to say, “The jury system worked as it should in the Anthony case.”   But, that’s not true.  If it worked as it should, Casey would be held  responsible.

I have accepted the finding of the Anthony jury.  I don’t agree with it, but I accept it.  And, frankly, I would rather she be found not guilty than die by lethal injection.  I would rather the guilty go free than the innocent punished or killed.

If Troy Davis is murdered tomorrow night, at 7 pm, there will be consequences that the justice system will have to face.  People in this country, and all over the world, will view the United States as a barbaric nation.  A statement by Amnesty International says it best:

“It is unconscionable that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied relief to Troy Davis. Allowing a man to be sent to death under an enormous cloud of doubt about his guilt is an outrageous affront to justice.” – Amnesty International in a statement Tuesday about Davis being denied clemency; he’s slated to be executed Wednesday.

I wanted to find a place to go and protest tonight; I want to protest tomorrow until time is up and it happens.

I don’t understand how can we kill someone when there is doubt about their involvement in the crime.  How can we murder our citizens and still call ourselves civilized?  How?  How did we become such an ugly nation of murderers?

I can’t find the words to fully express my sadness, anger and disappointment.

Doesn’t it say something about this case when The Innocence Project, the NAACP, the ACLU, Amnesty International, President Jimmy Carter, the former head of the FBI, William Sessions,  and all the other Human Rights groups are fighting for the life of Troy Davis?

The Justice system in Georgia should be fighting, too!  Fighting for life!  How can anyone be against abortion but for the death penalty?   For political reasons maybe?  Ah, and this is a political season, after all.   Politicians must be bold and appear courageous for their constituents when an election year is on the horizon.   “Tough on crime” is the battle cry.  What about tough on truth?

This is exactly why defense attorneys are so important.

Troy Davis will refuse his last meal tomorrow night.  In solidarity with him, those of us chilled to the bone will fast tomorrow. too.

I am wearing black.

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sep 20 2011

    How can anyone be against abortion but for the death penalty?

    Et tu, Andrea? What is it with you liberals? The BIG difference is the murder of the unborn innocent verses the execution of a guilty heinous murderer!
    Sooo, you admit that abortion is murder? Sure you do! Otherwise, why the comparison to the death penalty? Once again the liberal rhetoric shows itself illogical. If you are pro abortion then you should be pro death penalty. It works BOTH ways, doncha know. 😕 {sigh}

    Concerning Troy Davis-I hope its possible for the President to stop this murder. Yes, in this case, it will be a murder because there is doubt, and reasonable at that, to make this execution an irresponsible act by the State of Georgia.

  2. Sep 21 2011

    How can we murder our citizens and still call ourselves civilized? How? How did we become such an ugly nation of murderers?

    …by legalizing abortion for birth control purposes back in 1973. One African American man will be unjustly executed tomorrow. Everyday, too many African American babies are aborted in the U.S. And they don’t get a jury of their peers to decide their fate. They are unjustly put to death because they are inconveniuent for the mother-that’s their only crime and its a crime they are far from responsible for. What about their civil rights?

    And, its not a women’s rights issue since many potential women are aborted having their rights denied before they can even exercise them.

  3. Sep 21 2011

    Andrea-I have to agree with you on this one. I am a conservative republican against stem cell research, abortion and pro death penalty under certain circumstances(yes im sure I will get reamed for that) but this case stinks to high heaven of something is not right! I don’t know the specifics except what I am hearing in the media but when there is a question dealing with “eye witnesses”,we should always fall on the side of the defendant. It has been proven over and over that eye witnesses are not RELIABLE! I usually don’t get emotionally involved in death penalty issues-but this one really bothers me. I am praying that something happens and this man is given a chance to see what is really going on here!

    • Sep 21 2011

      Hi Whister! Your prayers were answered tonight! Let’s hope the temporary stay will stay for good. PS…. no one will ream you, my dear!

  4. Sep 21 2011

    If there is any Doubt that Troy Davis committed that Crime 20 some Years ago than it also would be a Crime to put him to Death.
    I did not follow that Case, just know what I have seen on the News in the past few Days.
    I do know one Eye Witness recanted her Story and would today say Troy Davis was not the Person shot the Police Officer. That alone should be enough not to go through with the Execution.
    Sometimes I question our Legal System.
    It definitely is not flawless, just like the People who enforce it.

  5. colleen
    Sep 21 2011

    I joined Amnesty International specifically because of the death penalty in the U.S. Top 4 countries for executions – Iran, North Korea, Yemen and United States!! It is really unbelievable that a country as the U.S., that is suppose to be civilized and a example to the world still executes people.

  6. dee
    Sep 21 2011

    So sad.

  7. Sep 21 2011

    what will be done to Troy Davis is yet another Case of Injustice!
    We supposed to respect our Legal System, well we All need to examine this supposed to be the Best Legal System in the World.
    When a Man is executed in spite of existing Doubt about his Guilt than something is not working in this great Legal System we have and it needs to be fixed.
    Casey Anthony walked when she shouldn’t have, there was enough Evidence to convict her!
    Troy Davis will be executed, there is enough Doubt that he is Guilty to stop the Execution but they still are going ahead with putting him to Death!
    So, I ask why should we respect our Legal System the Way it is now, because we are told too?

  8. Sep 21 2011

    No doubt the public outcry will make a small headline on CNN. I just tuned in to both CNN & HLN and nothing…… That’s pretty sad wouldn’t you say? Strange that in the U.S. the death penalty is legal, but euthenaza is NOT. So if you are suffering from an incurable disease that is ravaging your body, noone is legally allowed to assist a person’s death, which only leaves suicide and they don’t consider that legal, but if you survive it, you aren’t charged. Very upside down morality.

    • Sep 21 2011

      yes, I googled at about 7:15 pm and no news anywhere on the status! WHAT? it took almost an hour for any posting that it had been delayed!

  9. Sep 21 2011

    (the video starts to play on its own-watch your volume)

    Troy Davis’ execution was delayed tonight as the Supreme Court weighed arguments by Davis’ legal team and the state of Georgia over whether he deserves a stay.

    At 7:05 p.m., five minutes after his scheduled death, Davis’ supporters erupted in cheers, hugs and tears outside the jail in Jackson, Ga., as supporters believed Davis had been saved from the death penalty. But Davis was granted only a temporary reprieve as the Supreme Court considers the decision.

    The warrant for Davis’ execution is valid until Sept. 28. The Georgia Resource Center, part of Davis’ legal defense team, said it was unsure how long the delay would last.

  10. Sep 22 2011

    It’s done now. Where do we go from here? Who’s going to fight the Supreme Court on – “It’s unconstitutional to legally murder a human being”. Isn’t there somewhere in that document something that pertains to that?


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