[Sayma-Announce] Urgent Action: Troy Davis to Be Executed in Georgia on 17 July

Charles Wilton cwilton at gmail.com
Tue Jul 3 12:53:32 EDT 2007

Friends may wish to take action on this pending execution.  You may
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Charlie Wilton
Berea Friends Meeting

- From Amnesty International USA

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3 July 2007
UA 170/07        Death penalty / Legal concern
USA (Georgia)        Troy Anthony Davis (m), black, aged 38

Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed in Georgia at 7pm
local time on 17 July. He has been on death row for more
than 15 years for the murder of a police officer which he
maintains he did not commit. Many of the witnesses presented
by the prosecution at the trial have since recanted or
contradicted their testimony.

On 28 August 1991 Troy Davis was convicted of the murder of
27-year-old Officer Mark Allen McPhail, white, who was shot
and killed in the car park of a Burger King fast food
restaurant in Savannah, Georgia, in the early hours of 19
August 1989. Troy Davis was also convicted of assaulting
Larry Young, a homeless man, who was accosted and struck
across the face with a pistol immediately before Officer
McPhail was shot. At the trial, Troy Davis admitted that he
had been at the scene of the shooting, but claimed that he
had neither assaulted Larry Young nor shot Officer McPhail.

There was no physical evidence against Troy Davis and the
weapon used in the crime was never found. The case against
him consisted entirely of witness testimony. In affidavits
signed over the years since the trial, all but three of the
state's non-police witnesses have recanted their testimony.
One of the three non-recanting witnesses is a man who has
not been located for interview by Davis' appeal lawyers.
Another, while not recanting, has contradicted her trial
testimony. The third non-police witness who has not recanted
his testimony is Sylvester Coles, who was the principle
alternative suspect, according to the defense at the trial,
and against whom there is new witness testimony implicating
him as the gunman.

Others have recanted their testimony against Troy Davis. In
1989, Kevin McQueen was detained in the same jail as Davis.
McQueen told the police that during this time Troy Davis had
confessed to shooting Officer McPhail. In a 1996 affidavit,
McQueen retracted this statement, saying that he had given
it because he wanted to ''get even'' with Davis following a
confrontation he said the two of them had had. Monty Holmes
testified against Troy Davis in a pre-trial hearing, but did
not testify at the trial because, according to a 2001
affidavit, he did not want to repeat this false testimony.
Jeffrey Sapp testified that Troy Davis had told him that he
had shot the officer. Recanting his testimony in a 2003
affidavit, he stated that under ''a lot of pressure'' from
police, he had testified against Troy Davis.

At the trial, eyewitness Dorothy Ferrell identified Troy
Davis as the person who had shot Officer McPhail. In a 2000
affidavit, she stated that she had not seen who the gunman
was, but testified against Davis out of fear that if she did
not, because she was on parole at the time, she would be
sent back to jail. In a 2002 affidavit, Darrell Collins, 16
years old at the time of the crime, said that the day after
the shooting, 15 or 20 police officers came to his house,
and ''a lot of them had their guns drawn''. They took him in
for questioning, and ''after a couple of hours of the
detectives yelling at me and threatening me, I finally broke
down and told them what they wanted to hear. They would tell
me things that they said had happened and I would repeat
whatever they said…I testified against Troy at his trial…
because I was still scared that the police would throw me in
jail for being an accessory to murder if I told the truth
about what happened…''

Larry Young, the homeless man who was accosted on the night
of the murder, implicated Troy Davis as the man who had
assaulted him. His affidavit, signed in 2002, offers further
evidence of a coercive police investigation into the murder
of their fellow officer: ''After I was assaulted that night
… some police officers grabbed me and threw me down on the
hood of the police car and handcuffed me. They treated me
like a criminal; like I was the one who killed the officer …
They made it clear that we weren't leaving until I told them
what they wanted to hear. They suggested answers and I would
give them what they wanted. They put typed papers in my face
and told me to sign them. I did sign them without reading
them.'' In his 2002 affidavit he said that he ''couldn't
honestly remember what anyone looked like or what different
people were wearing.''

Antoine Williams, a Burger King employee, had just driven
into the restaurant's car park at the time the shooting
occurred. At the trial, he identified Troy Davis as the
person who had shot Officer McPhail. In 2002 he stated that
this was false, and that he had signed a statement for the
police which he could not and did not read: ''Even today, I
know that I could not honestly identify with any certainty
who shot the officer that night. I couldn't then either.
After the officers talked to me, they gave me a statement
and told me to sign it. I signed it. I did not read it
because I cannot read. At Troy Davis's trial, I identified
him as the person who shot the officer. Even when I said
that, I was totally unsure whether he was the person who
shot the officer. I felt pressured to point at him because
he was the one who was sitting in the courtroom. I have no
idea what the person who shot the officer looks like.''

Due to the procedural obstacles facing a death row inmate
seeking a hearing on post-conviction evidence, Troy Davis
has had no such hearing on the current state of the witness
testimony.  At oral arguments in front of a three-judge
panel of the federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in
September 2005, one of the judges expressed concern that
Troy Davis had not been granted a federal hearing to present
the post-conviction evidence. She asked, ''If these people
say, 'I was coerced by the police,' how could [the lower
federal judge] reject that without a hearing?''  She
reportedly suggested that without the testimony of the
various trial witnesses who had now recanted, the state
appeared to have no case. However, in September 2006, the
11th Circuit Court upheld the federal judge's ruling, and on
25 June 2007 the US Supreme court refused to intervene. For
a full report on this case, see USA: 'Where is the justice
for me?' The case of Troy Davis, facing execution in
Georgia, February 2007,

Since the USA resumed executions in 1977, 1,086 prisoners
have been put to death, 40 of them in Georgia. Since the US
Supreme Court approved new death penalty laws in 1976, more
than 100 people have been released from death rows around
the country on grounds of innocence, many of them in cases
in which witness testimony has been shown to have been
unreliable. This rate of error is one factor that has
contributed to a waning in public support for the death
penalty in the USA, with some opinion polls now registering
majority support for a moratorium on executions.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty regardless
of the guilt or innocence of the prisoner. At the same time,
it also seeks to ensure that international standards are at
least adhered to in those countries which still resort to
judicial killing. As the case against Troy Davis now stands,
Georgia's pursuit of the death penalty contravenes
international safeguards which prohibit the execution of
anyone whose guilt is not based on ''clear and convincing
evidence leaving no room for an alternative explanation of
the facts''.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly
as possible, in your own words:
- explaining that you are not seeking to condone the murder
of Officer Mark Allen McPhail, or to downplay the
seriousness of the crime or the suffering caused;
- noting that many of the witnesses who testimony was used
against Troy Davis at his trial have since recanted their
trial testimony, and that there is new evidence against an
alternative suspect in the case;
- noting the large number of wrongful convictions in capital
cases in the USA since 1976, and noting that unreliability
of witness testimony has been a contributing factor in many
of these cases;
- noting that the power of clemency in capital cases exists
as a failsafe against irreversible error that the courts
have been unable or unwilling to remedy;
- calling on the Board to commute the death sentence of Troy

State Board of Pardons and Paroles
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE, Suite 458
Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909
Fax: 1 404 651 8502
Email: webmaster at pap.state.ga.us
Salutation:         Dear Board members


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