----This man may be innocent. Georgia wants him dead
http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions /2007/07/ 01/2007-07-01_machinery_ of_death_grinds_ ahead.html
By NY Daily News Columnist Errol Louis, July 1, 2007
2 days ago, the state of Georgia issued a death warrant in the case of Troy Anthony Davis, requiring the state's Department of Corrections to execute him by lethal injection between July 17 and 24.
There's overwhelming evidence that Davis did not commit the murder for which he has been sentenced to die. But Georgia's machinery of death is grinding ahead anyway, despite pleas for mercy from a growing number of voices including Amnesty International and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu.
Late on the night of Aug. 19, 1989, Davis got into a fight with a man outside a Burger King next to the Greyhound bus station in Savannah. A 27-year-old cop named Mark Allen MacPhail, moonlighting at the station as a security guard, ran to the scene and was shot to death.
No murder weapon was ever found, and no physical evidence made it to trial. But Davis - a 20-year-old tough known on the streets as RAH, for "rough as hell," was convicted of the grisly killing and sentenced to death on the strength of nine witnesses who claimed they saw him do it or heard him confess to the crime after the fact.
Six of the nine witnesses have since recanted their testimony, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A witness named Antoine Williams, who originally testified that he saw Davis pull the trigger, signed a sworn statement in 2002 that he had "no idea what the person who shot the officer looks like," and now says he was pressured by cops to finger Davis.
Another witness, a woman on parole named Dorothy Ferrell, also signed a sworn recantation of her original testimony. "I don't know which of the guys did the shooting because I didn't see that part," she now says. "I was still scared that if I didn't cooperate with the detective, then he might find a way to have me locked up again."
A man named Jeffrey Sapp, who testified to hearing Davis brag about the shooting the day after the murder, also signed a recantation and says cops pressured him. "None of that was true," he now says of his original testimony.
Another man who claimed Davis confessed to him now says he made up the story out of spite because Davis once spat in his face while both were in jail.
Sensing a pattern?
Stephen Sanders, who was at the Burger King when the shots rang out, originally told cops he couldn't identify the shooter except by the color of his clothes - but ended up naming Davis as the shooter at the trial, and is now ducking requests for interviews.
And last but not least, one of the key witnesses, Sylvester (Red) Coles - who originally went to police and named Davis as the shooter - is probably the real killer, according to Davis' lawyers. Coles never told cops he owned a .38 revolver, the kind used in the murder, and three people have come forward to say they heard Coles take credit for the killing.
"Red said he killed a policeman and a guy named Troy took the fall for it," one of these witnesses says.
But none of these facts can change Davis' sentence, thanks to the federal Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which puts a time limit on when evidence can be admitted in state death penalty cases.
Davis didn't have the aggressive legal help needed to round up witnesses in time: Georgia is the only state in the union that doesn't guarantee death row prisoners a lawyer during crucial points in the appeals process.
Those who want to help save Davis' life - a commutation would still leave him in prison without parole - should write a short note to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles and send it to Amnesty International, 730 Peachtree St., Suite 1060, Atlanta, Ga. 30308. The letter can be faxed to (404) 876-2276.
Please send your note soon. Enough voices raised might just give Davis the room he needs to prove his innocence - and stop the mad rush to execution that stains American justice.
From David Kaczynski, New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty
The impending execution of Troy Davis in Georgia is weighing on my heart.
For one thing, most of the evidence used to convict Davis has been discredited.
Unfortunately, the presumption of innocence becomes a presumption of guilt as soon as someone has been convicted. Thus, Davis is expected not only to disprove the evidence that led to his conviction, but he must also prove his innocence - something that is very difficult to do in non-DNA cases. It ought to shock us that we execute people whose guilt is so questionable.
But this particular case also feels personal to me. First, I corresponded briefly with Mr. Davis in 1999 and 2000. He wrote with dignity and intelligence. He likes baseball. He was concerned about his mother.
I also know Troy's sister, Martina Correa, who has been fighting for her brother's life for many years. I identify with her completely. She loves her brother and has dedicated much of her life and energy to saving him. Not only is Georgia planning to execute a man who may be innocent, but they are subjecting his family to a torment that could not be more cruel. Davis' mother is a lovely women, struggling with grief,
searching for a slender ray of hope. She and Martina are often seen at NCADP conferences, like so many of us who seek an extended family within the movement, among the hopeful and the wounded.
There are moments when I wake up to all the reasons that bring me to this struggle: love of family, love of humanity, and utter disgust for this callous system. The Troy Davis case is a poignant reminder.
Please take a moment to write a brief note to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles. I imagine Mr. Davis' chances are slim. But we should not let Georgia carry out this execution without hearing from us. Please write a brief note asking that Davis' life be spared.
Mail your letter to: Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles and send it to Amnesty International, 730 Peachtree St., Suite 1060, Atlanta, Ga. 30308. The letter can be faxed to (404) 876-2276.