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Justice for Troy Davis-UPDATED | The Nation

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Peter Rothberg

Peter Rothberg

Opposing war, racism, sexism, climate change, economic injustice and high-stakes testing.

Justice for Troy Davis-UPDATED

UPDATE: The state parole board Monday temporarily halted the execution of Troy Anthony Davis less than 24 hours before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection. The board issued a 90-day stay of execution after a nine-hour closed-door clemency hearing in which last-minute questions of his innocence were raised. The board did not release its vote.

Thanks to all of you who answered my appeal and contacted the board on Davis' behalf.

An order issued by the board granting the stay said "those representing Troy Anthony Davis have asserted that they can and will present live witnesses and other evidence to the members of the board to support their contention that there remains some doubt as to his guilt."

It also states that the board "will not allow an execution to proceed in this state unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused."

Davis' lawyers were elated that they will now have more time to make a case for his innocence.

"Of course we're disappointed that it wasn't full clemency, but I think the reaction of the board shows that there was, in fact, some doubt," said Danielle Garten, one of Davis' lawyers. "We're glad we were able to show that and to be the messengers of what Troy's story really is."

Stay tuned.


Troy Anthony Davis is currently scheduled to die by lethal injection on July 17. Davis has been on death row in Georgia for more than 15 years for the murder of Police Officer Mark Allen McPhail at a Burger King in Savannah; a murder he maintains he did not commit. The record of his case offers much credence for his contention.

As a comprehensive recent report by Amnesty International shows, no physical evidence against Davis was ever found and the weapon used in the crime was never located. The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained numerous 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 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.

Moreover, as the Atlanta Constitution-Journal reported this week, "it appears that the quality of legal representation Davis received during his trial was, by his own lawyer's account, seriously deficient. While Davis' case proceeded through the courts, the budget of the Georgia Resource Center, which represented him, was dramatically cut. A lawyer from the Resource Center stated in an affidavit that 'We were simply trying to avert total disaster rather than provide any kind of active or effective representation.'"

If executed, Davis will join 40 other men who have been executed in Georgia since the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1973. Given significant uncertainty about some of the forty's guilt, experts from Georgia's legal community recently produced a report, sponsored by the American Bar Association, recommending that Georgia impose a moratorium on executions because the state could not ensure fairness and accuracy in every capital case. Among other things, it cited racial disparity in capital sentencing, with those convicted of killing whites 4.5 times more likely to be sentenced to death as those convicted of killing blacks. In this case, the officer killed was white; Davis is black.

Last Monday, lawyers for Davis went before the US Supreme Court in a last-ditch effort to convene a retrial, but the Roberts court denied their plea and upheld Davis' sentence, ending a 12-year attempt to appeal the case and setting the final execution process in motion.

Read more about this travesty of justice, click here to send an urgent message to the Georgia State Board of Pardons & Paroles urging a stay of Davis's execution and and write your local newspaper asking them to report on this case.

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