Georgia May Execute Innocent Man in 9 Days
(APN) SAVANNAH — In nine days, on July 17, 2007, Georgia may execute an innocent man, after both State and Federal Courts refused to hear the recanted testimony of 7 out of 9 witnesses in his case, Atlanta Progressive News has learned. Is Davis innocent? Is he guilty? We may never know, and that’s the problem.
The Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear Troy Anthony Davis’s death row case on June 25, 2007, leaving little legal recourse for him.
Four days after the decision, the State of Georgia petitioned for a death warrant, and the execution date is now set for July 17, 2007, in Jackson, Georgia.
“By refusing to review serious claims of innocence, the Supreme Court has revealed catastrophic flaws in the US death penalty machine,” Larry Cox, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), said in a press release obtained by APN.
A jury convicted Davis in 1991 of murdering Police Officer Mark Allen McPhail in Savannah, Georgia, and he has since gone through numerous appeals.
“I am demanding justice for Troy and Officer Mark McPhail,” Martina Correia, Davis’ sister, told APN. “I won’t rest until they put me in my grave.”
APN reported previously that seven of nine witnesses who testified against Davis in 1991 have either recanted or contradicted their testimony in that time; no murder weapon was ever found; and no physical evidence exists linking Davis to the crime.
“If we got a new trial, I don’t know what evidence the state would have,” Jason Ewart, one of Davis’ lawyers with Washington D.C.-based Arnold & Porter, LLP, told APN.
“If they don’t care about innocence, they don’t care about the law,” Correia said of those who refuse to examine new evidence in the case. “The police officers that coerced these witnesses, they didn’t do anything to honor their comrade.”
Ewart said his team is working around the clock trying to get a new case in Savannah based on new evidence that could absolve Davis.
“We want an evidentiary hearing,” he said. “A Court should at least take a look at [the evidence] to see if it is credible. We think we have a strong argument and we think the Judge will be fair and listen to what we have to say.”
Correia has been writing letters to organizations on Davis’s behalf ever since he was arrested in 1989.
“Nobody believed me because everybody thought I was biased,” Correia told APN of her struggles to convince people her brother is innocent.
She credits a February 2007 AIUSA report on Davis’s case as the point when many started to seriously reexamine his case.
Davis is scheduled to appear before the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles (The Board) on July 16, 2007, in which The Board could decide to grant Davis clemency.
Since executions resumed in the United States in January 1977, 40 prisoners have been put to death in Georgia. In the same period, six prisoners have been granted clemency, according to AIUSA’s report on Davis.
“Our strongest hope is with the Parole Board,” Laura Moye, Deputy Director of AIUSA’s Southern Regional Office, said. “It is the only entity as citizens we can petition.”
“If they would listen to the case, it’s kind of hard not to see the evidence is compelling,” Gregory Joseph, State Policy Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said. “We hope the Board will take a very deliberate approach.”
“The Pardons and Paroles Board is in a unique position,” Ewart said. “It has time [to consider the evidence]. It is their job to make time.”
NCADP and AIUSA are conducting ongoing letter-writing campaigns asking people worldwide to urge The Board to grant clemency.
Moye said her office has received about 3,000 letters and cards so far and more are coming.
“Troy’s case symbolizes what’s wrong with the death penalty,” Joseph told APN. “There is police intimidation involved, unreliable witness testimonies I believe we have a very compelling case of innocence here.”
Davis’ case marks the first time NCADP has ever handled an individual case.
“It is dangerous to have a death penalty case with no physical evidence. You can pressure witnesses into making statements that are not true,” Moye said.
AIUSA will hold a press conference on July 10 at 10 a.m. in front of the Floyd Building where The Board is headquartered. Speakers will discuss Davis’s case and urge The Board to grant clemency.
“He’s a very prayerful person and he’s asking God to help,” Correia said of Davis. “More and more people are contacting him from everywhere. He knows there are thousands of people writing letters and making calls. He knows that people are working hard. We are not giving up at all.”
Jonathan Springston is a Senior Staff Writer for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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