The unlawful execution of the innocent Troy Davis

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By Marlenne Barajas / Staff Writer

By Marlenne Barajas / Staff Writer

In spite of the efforts and various campaigns in protest of the event, Troy Anthony Davis became the 29th inmate to be executed by lethal injection in the state of Georgia since 1973, when the state re-established the death penalty.

On Sept. 21, Troy Davis took his last breath. His controversial death was the result of a fatal dose imposed by the state of Georgia as a punishment for the shooting of Mark MacPhail, a 27-year-old off-duty police officer, in 1989.

Officer MacPhail had been working nights as a security guard when he arbitrated a fight in the parking lot of a Burger King and received several lethal gunshot wounds to the heart and head.  

By Aug. 31, 1991, Davis was sentenced to the death penalty.

Despite the lack of evidence regarding a murder weapon or any other physical proof, such as blood or DNA, that would have linked Davis to the murder, the state immorally prosecuted and possibly condemned an innocent life.

The prosecution provided the jury with only nine testimonies from key witnesses that supposedly tied Davis to the crime.

Seven of the nine witnesses later recanted their testimonies and said the police disputed most of them.

Sylvester Coles, one of the two witnesses that didn’t withdraw his testimony, was the leading alternative suspect for the defense. New evidence established Coles as the marksman and nine individuals have since signed affidavits incriminating Coles.

Other uncertainties and significant doubts began to surface after flawed evidence and vital recantations of the witnesses were revealed, however they  accomplished no effect on the case whatsoever regarding his sentence.  

Many of the witnesses have claimed that they were pressured by detectives and police officers to change their stories in order to  identify Davis as the murderer in this situation.

These recantations caused many jurors to question their verdicts. Nevertheless, the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles denied his third and last request for clemency.

 Not only was he deprived the right for clemency, but Davis was also rejected by Georgia prison officials to take a polygraph test.

With no concrete evidence, the execution of Davis has been one of the highest profile death penalty and racially charged cases in the country.

“I am utterly shocked and disappointed at the failure of our justice system at all levels to correct a miscarriage of justice,” said Troy Davis attorney Brian Kammer, in response to the event.  

Georgia’s parole board was publicly castigated by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and several other prominent African American leaders, all of which claim that the board’s verdict was emblematic of a U.S. criminal justice system laden with racial inequality.

A report dated 1990 from the U.S. General Accounting Office found “a pattern of evidence indicating racial disparities in the charging, sentencing, and imposition of the death penalty.”

“We simply cannot say we live in a country that offers equal justice to all Americans when racial disparities plague the system by which our society imposes the ultimate punishment,” Senator Russ Feingold said in support of our civil rights.

Since when has it ever been morally acceptable to take one person’s life just to justify the loss of another?

More or less, capital punishment is ineffective and inhumane. It doesn’t deter crime and it’s unable to prevent the accidental execution of innocent people.

The death penalty, regardless of the nature of the crime, still is the ultimate abnegation of our human rights and violates our right to live, something of which is indicated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  

In other words, capital punishment is just a primitive method for a state to kill their prisoners.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 255 African Americans have been executed for killing Caucasians in the past three decades whereas only 17 Caucasians have received the same punishment for murdering African Americans.

Georgia was also ranked seventh in the nation for the total number of executions it has committed.

Studies prove that over half of the U.S. public prefers life without parole over the death penalty. Over time, public support for the death penalty has receded.

This accessibility to legally kill an inmate should be abolished in the United States, just as 137 other countries, like Chile and Argentina to name a few, have managed to eliminate it completely.

The death of Troy Davis has captured worldwide attention from public figures, such as Pope Benedict XVI, the European Union, and former president Jimmy Carter, who has said that he will utilize the Troy Davis case to fight the policy’s flaws in response to this incident.

After hundreds of thousands of people signed over a million petitions on Davis’ behalf since his indictment, civil activists and protesters gathered for one last attempt to hold back the death of Davis. However, the Supreme Court denied the last-minute stay of his execution.

“All I can ask is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth. I ask my family and friends to continue to fight this fight,” Davis said just moments before he was executed. “I am innocent. The incident that happened that night is not my fault.”

Davis continued to voice his innocence even as the lethal poison took effect and coursed through his body, paralyzing his lungs and eventually stopping his heart.

The execution of was Davis was ultimately a game played by the State of Georgia to demonstrate how far they can extend their limitless power to play God and decide who lives and who doesn’t.  

Generally, the fact that the prosecution was based on inconsistencies and faulty testimonies, the murder of Troy Anthony Davis has been one of the more infamous tragedies in American history.  


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