The Horror of America: Georgia Set To Execute Troy Davis Despite Conviction Riddled With Doubt – OpEd


Today (September 20), the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency to Troy Davis. He is scheduled to die by lethal injection tomorrow (Wednesday, September 21, 2011) at 7 pm EST. To take action for Troy Davis, please visit this Amnesty International page and send urgent emailsto the Pardons Board and the District Attorney.

Troy Davis was convicted of murdering a Georgia police officer in 1991, based upon the testimony of nine witnesses, seven of whom have recanted their testimony entirely, and has been on death row since his conviction. Three previous attempts to execute him were stayed at the last minute.

As Amnesty International explained today:

The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, all but two of the state’s non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony.

Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.

One of the two witnesses who has not recanted his testimony is Sylvester “Red” Coles — the principle alternative suspect, according to the defense, against whom there is new evidence implicating him as the gunman. Nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles.

As Amnesty International also stated in a blog post:

[D]emand that the Board reconsider its decision and demand that Chatham County (Savannah) District Attorney Larry Chisolm seek a withdrawal of the death warrant and support clemency himself. This appalling decision renders meaningless the Board’s 2007 vow to not permit an execution unless there is “no doubt” about guilt.  The Troy Davis case is riddled with doubt […]

Nearly a million supporters of human rights and justice have called for clemency in this case, so far. They believed in the common-sense notion that you should not execute someone when you can’t be sure they are guilty. Death penalty supporters like Bob Barr, former Texas Governor Mark White,  and former FBI Director William Sessions also support clemency in this case, for the same reason. And at least three jurors from Davis’ trial have asked for his execution to be called off. Putting Troy Davis to death would be a grave injustice to those jurors who believe they sentenced Davis to death based on questionable information.

In the fall of 2008, Troy’s sister, Martina Correia, who has campaigned ceaselessly for justice for Troy, introduced a statement from her brother that demonstrates a sense of humanity that is sorely lacking in the board members who, today authorized Troy’s execution.

A Message from Troy Anthony Davis

I want to thank all of you for your efforts and dedication to human rights and human kindness. In the past year, I have experienced such emotion, joy, sadness and never-ending faith.

It is because of all of you that I am alive today. As I look at my sister Martina, I am marveled by the love she has for me — and of course, I worry about her and her health. But as she tells me, she is the eldest, and she will not back down from this fight to save my life and prove to the world that I am innocent of this terrible crime.

As I look at my mail from across the globe, from places I have never ever dreamed I would know about, and people speaking languages and expressing cultures and religions I could only hope to one day see firsthand, I am humbled by the emotion that fills my heart with overwhelming, overflowing joy.

I can’t even explain the surge of emotion I feel when I try to express the strength I draw from you all. It compounds my faith, and it shows me yet again that this is not a case about the death penalty, this is not a case about Troy Davis — this is a case about justice, and the human spirit to see justice prevail.

I cannot answer all of your letters, but I do read them all. I cannot see you all, but I can imagine your faces. I cannot hear you speak, but your letters take me to the far reaches of the world. I cannot touch you physically, but I feel your warmth every day I exist.

So thank you, and remember I am in a place where execution can only destroy your physical form, but because of my faith in God, my family and all of you, I have been spiritually free for some time. And no matter what happens in the days and weeks to come, this movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated.

There are so many more Troy Davises. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me, but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe.

I want you to know that the trauma placed on me and my family as I have now faced execution and the death chamber three times is more punishment than most can bear. Yet as I face this state-sanctioned terror, I realize one constant — my faith is unwavering, the love of my family and friends is massive, and the fight for justice and against injustice by activists worldwide has ignited a fire that is raging for human rights and human dignity.

You inspire me, you honor me, and as I pray for strength and guidance for my family and loved ones, and for the victim’s family and loved ones, I share with you this struggle. I share with you our triumphs, knowing that you add to my strength and my courage, and because of that, I share with you my life.

We must dismantle this unjust system, city by city, state by state and country by country. I can’t wait to stand with you, no matter if that is in physical or spiritual form. I will one day be announcing, “I AM TROY DAVIS, and I AM FREE!”

Never stop fighting for justice, and we will win!


To reiterate, if you wish to take action for Troy Davis, please visit this Amnesty International page and send urgent emails to the Pardons Board and District Attorney.

Andy Worthington

Andy Worthington is an investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers). Worthington is the author of "The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison"

2 thoughts on “The Horror of America: Georgia Set To Execute Troy Davis Despite Conviction Riddled With Doubt – OpEd

  • September 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    The United States is respected world wide for its justice system. So much of this respect will be eroded with the perception that the State of Georgia is about to execute a man when there appears to be much evidence that this man may be innocent. Even more compelling in this situation is that the man who may be guilty is known. At the very least the execution of Troy Davis should be delayed while all of the new evidence is thoroughly investigated.

    Because this case is one of a cop killer, the desire to seek and execute the guilty is understandable. However, the world is watching, and to execute an innocent man (if this proves to be the case) will be seen as cruel vindictiveness nor expected within a justice system that has mechanisms in place to delay the execution and the resources to seek the truth.

    A further horror of the situation is that if the wrong man is executed, the man who did pull the trigger will continue to walk free. The police must now be cringing at this possibility.

    Please, gentlemen and ladies, do the right thing and halt this potential execution of an innocent man. With respect,

    Glenn Matthew

  • September 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Would not the state of Georgia be liable or guilty of homicide or manslaughter for killing an innocent person?


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