On The Case Of Troy Davis
I recently heard that Troy Davis has been issued another stay of execution, though I’m not sure of all the details. (Sometimes, news takes a while to reach the confines of this dungeon.)
I’d like to encourage everyone to go to his support website (http://troyanthonydavis.org/) and offer any help that you can. Remember, inaction is consent and the only way to make change happen is to be active.
One of the main issues in the Troy Davis case is that 7 of the 9 prosecution witnesses have recanted their testimony since his trial. This fact alone should ensure that he receive a new trial. However, as a general rule courts give more weight to trial testimony. Their reasoning being that witness testimony at trial is closer to the time of the crime so memories are more reliable and the testimony is given in front of a judge in open court with both prosecutors and defense attorneys engaging in cross-examination.
The Orwellian double-think justifications the courts give for deplorable and unjust actions and ideology never cease to amaze me…
It is true that some memories fade with time but in many ways trial testimony is less reliable than recantation after trial. Also, some witnesses are more likely to come forward after a trials conclusion. Here are some examples from the Troy Davis case:
Years after the Troy Davis trial, Tonya Johnson came forward and signed an affidavit stating that she saw another man come around the corner from the scene of the crime, sweaty and anxious and stash two guns in a vacant house. She also has said that she was terrified of this man. To Ms. Johnson, it was very obvious that this other man, who she knew as “Red”, had committed the murder. Imagine how she felt when another man was arrested for the crime. Perhaps, she thought she was the only one who knew the Truth—alone with the Truth that a murderer was still free…
A murderer who perhaps was looking to kill any and all witnesses. One can surely understand her reluctance to come forward. It took nearly 10 years for D.D. Collins, a trial witness in the Troy Davis case, to recant his testimony. He has stated that he was “scared as hell” when police took him in for questioning. Speaking about the experience of being forced to say what police demanded of him, D.D. Collins has said: “They told me I would go to jail for a long time and I would be lucky if I got out.” It should be noted that Mr. Collins was only 16 when he was interrogated and his parents weren’t present. Imagine how intimidating it would be for a 16 year old kid to be interrogated by police who were probably twice his size and who were telling him he would go to jail if he didn’t say what they demanded. Faced with that type of intimidation many people will say whatever regardless of how True it is, just to get out of the police station safe and sound. Another trial witness, Dorothy Ferrell, later recanted her testimony that implicated Troy Davis.
The mother of four children, who had a previous shoplifting charge, has said that she “couldn’t go back to jail” and she felt that she “didn’t have any choice but to get up there and testify”. Losing your four children and going to jail or saying whatever the prosecutors and police demand that you say—many would chose the later. Interestingly, a former district attorney who worked for the prosecutor’s office that sent Troy Davis to death row has admitted that “the majority of African Americans don’t see police or prosecutors as friends. They aren’t as hawkish. They are more concerned with crime solutions and fairness.” Keep in mind that these are the words of a former prosecutor, not the rantings of some “far left radical.” (This statement is True, but I would say add that it applies to poor communities of every ethnicity, not just black folks.)
All three witnesses I mentioned are from a poor area of Savannah, Georgia where police and the court system are viewed as corrupt. A warranted view, quite obviously. In the midst of a courtroom full of police and prosecutors a person is more likely to side with the State. Cross examination in front of a judge only adds to the pressure. In turn we must remember that police and prosecutors employ every manipulation tactic available. Being that I, like Troy Davis, am on death row unjustly for capital murder of a police officer, I know all too well what lengths the State will go to in order to achieve their goals and objectives. They will unrepentantly break laws and intimidate by any and all means. They will lie and deceive in every manner imaginable. It’s up to us to shed light on these facts, facts that are painfully illustrated by the Troy Davis case.
To detail all the problems with his case would take many pages, I urge everyone to go to his website (http://troyanthonydavis.org/) to learn more and then spread the word about his fight for freedom. Those with a vision of a more just and peaceful future for Humanity have to stand together. It’s up to us to make real social change a reality.