No jury would now convict Troy Davis. Within seventy-two hours, however, Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed. His case is an example of the draconian & kafkaesque attempts in the nineties to expedite death row appeals which perversely allows evidence of innocence to never be heard if it is hidden too well and for too long.
This weekend a media firestorm over his execution has been ignited. While one might expect to see stories in the Atlanta Journal Constitution & Savannah Morning News, stories have also appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, ABC’s national news, International Herald Tribune, and even TV New Zealand. Blog coverage has included DKos, Amnesty International, On the Wilder Side (with action items),Taking Place, The Dream Antilles, tcask, Virtual Bourgeois, Spidelblog, Movable Feast, and of course, Abolish!
The New York Times notes:
Early on the morning of Aug. 19, 1989, a man described as a neighborhood thug, Sylvester Coles, began harassing a homeless man named Larry Young for the beer he was carrying in a paper sack.
A crowd of bystanders, some of whom had spilled out of nearby Charlie Brown�s Pool Hall after hearing the ruckus, followed the fight as it progressed up Oglethorpe Avenue toward the bus station.
Several witnesses later testified that they had heard Mr. Coles threaten Mr. Young with a gun and then saw him pull a pistol out of his pants and then use it to beat Mr. Young on the head.
Fearing for his life, Mr. Young yelled for someone to call the police, and Officer MacPhail responded. He was shot twice and died.
Mr. Davis said he had been one of the bystanders who came out of the pool hall and watched as Mr. Coles tormented Mr. Young. He said that he had run when he heard Mr. Coles threaten to shoot Mr. Young and that he had never looked back.
Mr. Davis surrendered to the Chatham County Sheriff�s Department several days later when he learned the police were looking for him, said his sister Ms. Correia. The family says it trusted that what seemed to be a case of mistaken identity would quickly be sorted out.
With no physical evidence to connect Mr. Davis to the shooting, the prosecutors relied heavily on the testimony of nine witnesses, including Mr. Coles, who identified Mr. Davis as the gunman the day after it happened, with a lawyer by his side.
Mr. Coles could not be found for comment this week.
But in an affidavit filed later, one of the witnesses, Antoine Williams, recalled his testimony that Mr. Davis was responsible for the crime.
�Even when I said that,� Mr. Williams said, �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.�
Ms. Correia said that as the day of the execution drew near, some of the people who testified against her brother were feeling remorse.
�These witnesses, they are calling my brother and asking him to forgive them,� Ms. Correia said. �They thought if they told the truth and signed a piece of paper saying they lied before that�s all it would take. He would go free. They can�t believe he might die because they lied.�
I should note that the Georgia Board of Pardon and Parole is likely to render a decision on Monday. You can take action online here.