Thursday, September 8, 2011

Troy Davis. A life in the brink. Urgent Action by Amnesty International.

An urgent action by Amnesty International has been distributed regarding the fate of Troy Davies, currently in death row in a Georgia State Penitentiary despite a   large ammount of exculpatory evidence in his favour.
Mr. Davies' case offers a glimpse about a criminal justice system which disproportionately   prosecutes, jails and punishes minorities and people living in poverty. We have added hyperlinks and background material, including what you (yes, you) can do to help Mr. Davies
Troy Davis, in death row since 1991
Troy Davis was convicted of murdering a Georgia police officer in 1991. Nearly two decades later,Davis remains on death row — even though the case against him has fallen apart.
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

The county judge signed the death warrant of Troy Davis on 6 September. The Georgia Department of Corrections will set the actual date and time for the execution. The Department’s usual strategy is to set it on the first day authorized under the warrant, in this case 21 September.

Troy Davis was sentenced to death in 1991 for the murder of police officer Mark Allen MacPhail in Savannah, Georgia in 1989. No physical evidence directly links him to the murder – no murder weapon was ever found. The case against Troy Davis primarily rested on witness testimony. Since his trial, seven of nine key witnesses have recanted or changed their testimony, some alleging police coercion.

Participants in the Global Action day for Troy Davis in Atlanta, Georgia (US)

In 2009, the US Supreme Court ordered a federal evidentiary hearing to review Troy Davis’ innocence claim. At the 2010 hearing, US District Court Judge William Moore addressed whether Troy Davis could show “by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable juror would have convicted him in the light of the new evidence” that had emerged since his 1991 murder trial. Under this “extraordinarily high” standard, Judge Moore wrote in his August 2010 opinion, “Mr Davis is not innocent”. Elsewhere in his ruling, he acknowledged that the new evidence presented by Troy Davis cast “some additional, minimal” doubt on his conviction, and that the state’s case was not “ironclad”. In 1991, the jury had found Troy Davis guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” Judge Moore noted, “but not to a mathematical certainty”.

In 2007 Troy Davis was less than 24 hours from execution when the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles issued a stay. The Board said that it would not allow an execution to go ahead “unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused”. Since then Troy Davis has faced two more execution dates, both in 2008, which were stayed by the courts.

Please write immediately in your own language:

  • Acknowledge the seriousness of the crime for which Troy Davis was sentenced to death;
  • Note that doubts persist in the case even after the federal evidentiary hearing in 2010;
  • Point out that the Board acts as a fail-safe against irreversible error, and recall its statement in 2007 that it would not allow any execution to proceed where there was any doubt about the guilt of the prisoner;
  • Point to the substantial evidence of the fallibility of the capital justice system;
  • Call on the Board to grant clemency and to commute the death sentence of Troy Davis.


State Board of Pardons and Paroles 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE

Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909, USA

Fax: +1 404 651 8502
Salutation: Dear Board members

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