Last night twitter was a buzz with tweets over the execution of Troy Davis. I was watching the live stream from Democracynow.org.
As the execution hour came and went, a loud cheer erupted in the crowd outside the prison. People were jubilant that the Supreme Court had stepped in. First the cheers that a Stay had been ordered turned to disappointment that it was only a reprieve until they decided if they should listen to the clemency appeals made on Troy’s behalf by his lawyers.
There was one tweet that sent a shiver down my spine, when they said they think that Troy Davis is still in the execution chamber whilst waiting to learn his fate.
People around the world were hoping and praying that, at least the Courts would order a retrial, so that it can be heard again and the evidence can once again be tested in Court and Troy Davis can one more time be given the chance of proving his innocence.
Last night the Guardian newspaper printed an article stating why the execution of Troy Davis should be halted, they article stated the following:
Here are 10 reasons why the board – which decided on Tuesday to allow the execution to go ahead – has failed to deliver on its promise and why a man who is very possibly innocent will be killed in the name of American justice.
1. Of the nine witnesses who appeared at Davis’s 1991 trial who said they had seen Davis beating up a homeless man in a dispute over a bottle of beer and then shooting to death a police officer, Mark MacPhail, who was acting as a good samaritan, seven have since recanted their evidence.
2. One of those who recanted, Antoine Williams, subsequently revealed they had no idea who shot the officer and that they were illiterate – meaning they could not read the police statements that they had signed at the time of the murder in 1989. Others said they had falsely testified that they had overheard Davis confess to the murder.
3. Many of those who retracted their evidence said that they had been cajoled by police into testifying against Davis. Some said they had been threatened with being put on trial themselves if they did not co-operate.
4. Of the two of the nine key witnesses who have not changed their story publicly, one has kept silent for the past 20 years and refuses to talk, and the other is Sylvester Coles. Coles was the man who first came forward to police and implicated Davis as the killer. But over the past 20 years evidence has grown that Coles himself may be the gunman and that he was fingering Davis to save his own skin.
5. In total, nine people have come forward with evidence that implicates Coles. Most recently, on Monday the George Board of Pardons and Paroles heard from Quiana Glover who told the panel that in June 2009 she had heard Coles, who had been drinking heavily, confess to the murder of MacPhail.
6. Apart from the witness evidence, most of which has since been cast into doubt, there was no forensic evidence gathered that links Davis to the killing.
7. In particular, there is no DNA evidence of any sort. The human rights group the Constitution Project points out that three-quarters of those prisoners who have been exonerated and declared innocent in the US were convicted at least in part on the basis of faulty eyewitness testimony.
8. No gun was ever found connected to the murder. Coles later admitted that he owned the same type of .38-calibre gun that had delivered the fatal bullets, but that he had given it away to another man earlier on the night of the shooting.
9. Higher courts in the US have repeatedly refused to grant Davis a retrial on the grounds that he had failed to “prove his innocence”. His supporters counter that where the ultimate penalty is at stake, it should be for the courts to be beyond any reasonable doubt of his guilt.
10. Even if you set aside the issue of Davis’s innocence or guilt, the manner of his execution tonight is cruel and unnatural. If the execution goes ahead as expected, it would be the fourth scheduled execution date for this prisoner. In 2008 he was given a stay just 90 minutes before he was set to die. Experts in death row say such multiple experiences with imminent death is tantamount to torture.
This morning I woke up to read this email from Amnesty International, they said:
I’ve been down here at death row, and we just heard the horrific news.
After a torturous delay of more than 4 hours, the state of Georgia has just killed Troy Anthony Davis.
My heart is heavy. I am sad and angry. The state of Georgia has proven what we already know. Governments cannot be trusted with the awful power over life and death.
Today, Georgia didn’t just kill Troy Davis, they killed the faith and confidence that many Georgians, Americans and Troy Davis supporters worldwide used to have in our criminal justice system.
Wende, on our Abolish the Death Penalty Campaign team, met with Troy Davis yesterday to convey the support that he has had from all of you. He asked us to deliver this message back to you:
“The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I’m in good spirits and I’m prayerful and at peace.”
Let’s take a moment to honor the life of Troy Davis and Mark MacPhail. Then, let’s take all of our difficult feelings and re-double our commitment to abolition of the death penalty.
Please pledge to continue this fight because it is far from over.
This Friday at 7 pm EST, please join us for a special call to discuss Troy Davis’ case, what your work means for the death penalty abolition movement as a whole and what we can do next.
I am Troy Davis. You are Troy Davis. We will not stop fighting for justice.
Thank you for everything you have done to make your voice heard.
Director, Death Penalty Abolition Campaign
Amnesty International USA
Can you imagine it, being in Troy Davis shoes, 4 times you are told you are going to die and then it doesn’t happen when they say so? Last night the execution was delayed by 4 hours according to this Guardian article, they said:
It was Davis’s fourth execution date, and it was dragged out, for more than four hours, to what must have been tortuous effect for the prisoner and his family.
They also reported Troy’s last words to the family of the person he is accused of murdering, Troy said to them:
“I want to talk to the MacPhail family, I was not responsible for what happened that night. I did not have a gun. I was not the one who took the life of your father, son, brother.”
There are many campaigners that want the death penalty brought back in this Country, I am out on the fence on it, but when you read of executions like this, I am thankful we are not a nation that holds the death penalty as a sentence.
Troy Davis should have at least been given the chance to prove his innocence in Court, he was denied his rights and it is barbaric, inhumane to make another person sit there for 4 hours waiting to die.
Two families today grieve and today we see the true meaning of when Justice failed.
And I think this tweet sums it up perfectly:
Can you imagine today, someone telling you that at 11pm tonight you will have a heart-attack and die and then when that time arrives and goes nothing happens,? The hopes that you must have that you may live and be spared such a death are given to you for 4 hours and then those hopes and prayers are taken away forever.
That is not being humane, that is being barbaric. How can we instil democracy on other nations when there are faults in our own democracy?