Troy Davis executed for killing off-duty police officer

Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011 9:21 AM
Last updated Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011 8:06 AM
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JACKSON, Ga. — Georgia executed Troy Davis on Wednesday night for the murder of an off-duty police officer, a crime he denied committing right to the end as supporters around the world mourned and declared that an innocent man was put to death.

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Paine College student Craig McCullough marches across campus with other students in protest of the scheduled execution of Troy Davis. FULL STORY, PAGE 8A.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Paine College student Craig McCullough marches across campus with other students in protest of the scheduled execution of Troy Davis. FULL STORY, PAGE 8A.

Defiant to the end, he told relatives of Mark MacPhail that his 1989 slaying was not his fault. “I did not have a gun,” he insisted.

“For those about to take my life,” he told prison officials, “may God have mercy on your souls. May God bless your souls.”

Davis was declared dead at 11:08. The lethal injection began about 15 minutes earlier, after the Supreme Court rejected an 11th-hour request for a stay.

The court did not comment on its order, which came about four hours after it received the request and more than three hours after the planned execution time.

Though Davis’ attorneys said seven of nine key witnesses against him disputed all or parts of their testimony, state and federal judges repeatedly ruled against granting him a new trial. As the court losses piled up Wednesday, his offer to take a polygraph test was rejected and the pardons board refused to give him one more hearing.

Davis’ supporters staged vigils in the U.S. and Europe, declaring “I am Troy Davis” on signs, T-shirts and the Internet. Some tried increasingly frenzied measures, urging prison workers to stay home and even posting a judge’s phone number online, hoping people will press him to put a stop to the lethal injection. President Obama deflected calls for him to get involved.

“They say death row; we say hell no!” protesters shouted outside the Jackson prison where Davis was to be executed. In Washington, a crowd outside the Supreme Court yelled the same chant.

As many as 700 demonstrators gathered outside the prison as a few dozen riot police stood watch, but the crowd thinned as the night wore on and the outcome became clear. The scene turned eerily quiet as word of the high court’s decision spread, with demonstrators hugging, crying, praying, holding candles and gathering around Davis’ family.

Laura Moye of Amnesty International said the execution would be “the best argument for abolishing the death penalty.”

“The state of Georgia is about to demonstrate why government can’t be trusted with the power over life and death,” she said.

About 10 counterdemonstrators also were outside the prison, showing support for the death penalty and the family of Mark MacPhail, the man Davis was convicted of killing in 1989. MacPhail’s son and brother attended the execution.

“He had all the chances in the world,” his mother, Anneliese MacPhail, said of Davis in a telephone interview. “It has got to come to an end.”

At a Paris rally, many of the roughly 150 demonstrators carried signs emblazoned with Davis’ face. “Everyone who looks a little bit at the case knows that there is too much doubt to execute him,” Nicolas Krameyer of Amnesty International said at the protest.

Davis’ execution has been stopped three times since 2007, but on Wednesday the 42-year-old ran out of legal options.

As his last hours ticked away, an upbeat and prayerful Davis turned down an offer for a special last meal as he met with friends, family and supporters.

“Troy Davis has impacted the world,” his sister Martina Correia said at a news conference. “They say, ‘I am Troy Davis,’ in languages he can’t speak.”

His attorney Stephen Marsh said Davis would have spent part of Wednesday taking a polygraph test if pardons officials had taken his offer seriously.

“He doesn’t want to spend three hours away from his family on what could be the last day of his life if it won’t make any difference,” Marsh said.

Amnesty International says nearly 1 million people have signed a petition on Davis’ behalf. His supporters include former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, a former FBI director, the NAACP, several conservative figures and many celebrities, including hip-hop star Sean “P. Diddy” Combs.

“I’m trying to bring the word to the young people: There is too much doubt,” rapper Big Boi, of the Atlanta-based group Outkast, said at a church near the prison.

The U.S. Supreme Court gave Davis an unusual opportunity to prove his innocence in a lower court last year, though the high court itself did not hear the merits of the case.

He was convicted in 1991 of killing MacPhail, who was working as a security guard at the time. MacPhail rushed to the aid of a homeless man who prosecutors said Davis was bashing with a handgun after asking him for a beer. Prosecutors said Davis had a smirk on his face as he shot the officer to death in a Burger King parking lot in Savannah.

No gun was ever found, but prosecutors say shell casings were linked to an earlier shooting for which Davis was convicted.

Witnesses placed Davis at the crime scene and identified him as the shooter, but several of them have recanted their accounts and some jurors have said they’ve changed their minds about his guilt. Others have claimed a man who was with Davis that night has told people he actually shot the officer.

“Such incredibly flawed eyewitness testimony should never be the basis for an execution,” Marsh said. “To execute someone under these circumstances would be unconscionable.”

State and federal courts, however, have repeatedly upheld Davis’ conviction. One federal judge dismissed the evidence advanced by Davis’ lawyers as “largely smoke and mirrors.”

“He has had ample time to prove his innocence,” said MacPhail’s widow, Joan MacPhail-Harris. “And he is not innocent.”

The last motion filed by Davis’ attorneys in Butts County Court challenged testimony from two witnesses and disputed testimony from the expert who linked the shell casings to the earlier shooting involving Davis. Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson and the Georgia Supreme Court rejected the appeal, and prosecutors said the filing was just a delay tactic.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which helped lead the charge to stop the execution, said it considered asking Obama to intervene, even though he cannot grant Davis clemency for a state conviction.

Press secretary Jay Carney issued a statement saying that although Obama “has worked to ensure accuracy and fairness in the criminal justice system,” it was not appropriate for him “to weigh in on specific cases like this one, which is a state prosecution.”

Dozens of protesters outside the White House called on the president to step in, and about 12 were arrested for disobeying police orders.

Davis was not the only U.S. inmate put to death Wednesday evening. In Texas, white supremacist gang member Lawrence Russell Brewer was put to death for the 1998 dragging death of a black man, James Byrd Jr., one of the most notorious hate crime murders in recent U.S. history.

Davis’ best chance may have come last year, in a hearing ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court. It was the first time in 50 years that justices had considered a request to grant a new trial for a death row inmate.

The high court set a tough standard for Davis to exonerate himself, ruling that his attorneys must “clearly establish” Davis’ innocence – a higher bar to meet than prosecutors having to prove guilt. After the hearing judge ruled in prosecutors’ favor, the justices didn’t take up the case.

The execution drew widespread criticism in Europe, where politicians and activists made last-minute pleas for a stay.

Spencer Lawton, the district attorney who secured Davis’ conviction in 1991, said he was embarrassed for the judicial system – not because of the execution, but because it took so long to carry out.

“What we have had is a manufactured appearance of doubt which has taken on the quality of legitimate doubt itself. And all of it is exquisitely unfair,” said Lawton, who retired as Chatham County’s head prosecutor in 2008. “The good news is we live in a civilized society where questions like this are decided based on fact in open and transparent courts of law, and not on street corners.”

LETTER FROM RETIRED CORRECTIONS OFFICIALS

This morning, six retired corrections officials, including Dr. Allen Ault, retired Director of the Georgia Department of Corrections and former Warden of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison where he oversaw executions for the state, have sent the following letter to Georgia Corrections Officials and Gov. Nathan Deal asking them to urge the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to reconsider the decision they made on Tuesday to deny Troy Davis clemency.

Statement:

We write to you as former wardens and corrections officials who have had direct involvement in executions. Like few others in this country, we understand that you have a job to do in carrying out the lawful orders of the judiciary. We also understand, from our own personal experiences, the awful lifelong repercussions that come from participating in the execution of prisoners. While most of the prisoners whose executions we participated in accepted responsibility for the crimes for which they were punished, some of us have also executed prisoners who maintained their innocence until the end. It is those cases that are most haunting to an executioner.

We write to you today with the overwhelming concern that an innocent person could be executed in Georgia tonight. We know the legal process has exhausted itself in the case of Troy Anthony Davis, and yet, doubt about his guilt remains. This very fact will have an irreversible and damaging impact on your staff. Many people of significant standing share these concerns, including, notably, William Sessions, Director of the FBI under President Ronald Reagan.

Living with the nightmares is something that we know from experience. No one has the right to ask a public servant to take on a lifelong sentence of nagging doubt, and for some of us, shame and guilt. Should our justice system be causing so much harm to so many people when there is an alternative?

We urge you to ask the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to reconsider their decision. Should that fail, we urge you to unburden yourselves and your staff from the pain of participating in such a questionable execution to the extent possible by allowing any personnel so inclined to opt-out of activities related to the execution of Troy Anthony Davis. Further, we urge you to provide appropriate counseling to personnel who do choose to perform their job functions related to the execution. If we may be of assistance to you moving forward, please do not hesitate to call upon any of us.

Respectfully and collegially,

Allen Ault – Retired Warden, Georgia Diagnostic & Classifications Prison

Terry Collins – Retired Director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Ron McAndrew – Retired Warden, Florida State Prison

Dennis O’Neill - Retired Warden, Florida State Prison

Reginald Wilkinson – Retired Director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Jeanne Woodford – Retired Warden, San Quentin State Prison

AUGUSTA-AREA DEATH ROW INMATES

Robert Arrington – Sentenced May 10, 2004, in Richmond County for beating to death Kathy Hutchens on April 13, 2001.

Dallas Holiday – Sentenced Nov. 1, 1986, in Jefferson County for the murder of Johnson Williams on March 3, 1986.

Ernest Morrison - Sentenced Nov. 1, 1987, in Richmond County for strangling Mary Griffin on Jan. 9, 1987.

Willie Palmer – Sentenced Nov. 1, 1997, in Burke County for the murder of Brenda Palmer on Sept. 10, 1995.

Reinaldo Rivera – Sentenced Jan. 26, 2004, in Richmond County for the murder of Sgt. Marni Glista on Sept. 3, 2000.

Comments (107) Add comment
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Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 09/21/11 - 10:03 am
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Ballistics testing flawed?

Ballistics testing flawed? That sounds like mighty weak grounds for an appeal. But I guess it is the strongest argument the "anti-" crowd has got. And that shows the poverty of their position.

Dixieman
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Dixieman 09/21/11 - 10:10 am
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I will be SO GLAD when this

I will be SO GLAD when this pond scum is put to death and I do not have to read about him in the paper every morning!!

Cassandra Harris
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Cassandra Harris 09/21/11 - 10:15 am
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Retired - All death penalty

Retired - All death penalty cases are about revenge, not justice. This is seen in the fact that in spite of the fact that it is a fraction of the cost to give a person a life sentence, we still insist on putting them through the death penalty.

dickworth1
954
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dickworth1 09/21/11 - 10:42 am
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It a shame when you have all
Unpublished

It a shame when you have all these protesters arguing against the death penalty when the accused, tried, and convicted, chose death on their victim.

Jane18
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Jane18 09/21/11 - 10:55 am
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The death penalty IS about

The death penalty IS about justice---justice for the murdered person( people), and as a deterrent. But because of the time taken between sentencing and execution, bad and evil people have no fear of commiting homicide. If it was done quickly and could be seen publicly, as it should be, I believe a lot of people would think and act differently.

Dixieman
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Dixieman 09/21/11 - 11:05 am
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Cassandra - The death penalty

Cassandra - The death penalty is expensive ONLY because activists and lawyers abuse the appeal system and drag things out for 20 years or more. This is not a good argument against the death penalty. Justice in criminal cases has components: Deterrence (of others), prevention of repeat offenses by the guilty party, social order, and retribution (which you call revenge). All are proper objects of any system of justice.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 09/21/11 - 11:14 am
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Here's a good analysis of the

Here's a good analysis of the doubts:

CC NewsTimes

Vito45
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Vito45 09/21/11 - 11:21 am
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Thanks for the link LL. I

Thanks for the link LL. I know a lot more now than I did about all of the gyrations this case has been through and am a lot more comfortable with the outcome.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 09/21/11 - 11:40 am
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Watch out for the blood

Watch out for the blood pressure, Carpe. I think you are going a little over the top. Consider this, from one of your previous posts:

It seems all of you ready to "fry him" just want someone's blood for the murder of the police officer but they don't necessarily care if they are killing the person who really did it. Emotion over the death of this good officer has caused the suspect to be fast-tracked in a nasty way.

The thing is that Davis admitted that he participated in the crime spree that led to the policeman's death. He admitted committing felonies with other people. In Georgia (as in most states) that constitutes conspiracy to commit murder. When you have conspirators, it is legal to assign the death penalty to any one or two or all. You do not have to have only the triggerman. You can have the one who "held the coat" during the shooting. Or driving the getaway car for that matter. Davis was not merely "in the wrong place at the wrong time." No, he was an active conspirator. The death penalty is appropriate for a conspirator.

As for the nasty "fast track," you have got to be kidding! It was over twenty years ago. These appeals have gone on about twelve years too long.

broad street narrow mind
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broad street narrow mind 09/21/11 - 12:18 pm
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the district attorney spencer
Unpublished

the district attorney spencer lawton was good for tourism in the fumbled up murder story, midnight in the garden of good and evil, but i don't think this story is gonna be good for it. (lawton also prosecuted a case that put two other gus on death row who turned out to be not super guilty and later released, btw. he's a real card, but tough on crime! or people or whatever.) the texas case of an innocent guy executed was embarrassing but only got press really after the execution. this one is famous going into it. i don't think many people are gonna wanna visit our southern hideaway no matter how cheap our pork or how shiny and big the new stadium out next to costco gets.

broad street narrow mind
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broad street narrow mind 09/21/11 - 12:19 pm
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can anyone tell me why
Unpublished

can anyone tell me why retired army's and carpe noctem's comments are not shown and called unpublished?

Ushouldnthave
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Ushouldnthave 09/21/11 - 12:45 pm
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I have to wonder if the

I have to wonder if the Amnesty Intl. propagandists will take up the anti-death penalty cause for Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes (who murdered the wife and two daughters of Dr. William Petit in Connecticut).
To believe that Troy Davis is anything but guilty is simply living with your head in the sand.

rmwhitley
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rmwhitley 09/21/11 - 01:00 pm
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George W. Bush did it. Let
Unpublished

George W. Bush did it. Let the dirty scum bag go--- go to Hades. If amnesty international and these "protestors" are so civic minded, let them stand vigil at every human on earth's home 24 hours a day to protect their "beloved" from committing these heinous crimes.

Sweet son
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Sweet son 09/21/11 - 01:05 pm
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Why aren't you guys who are

Why aren't you guys who are supporting Davis up in arms about the guy in Texas set to be executed tonight? Is it because he is "really" guilty and Davis is not "really" guilty? Or is it because Brewer is white and his victim was black?

broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 09/21/11 - 01:06 pm
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i think the guy in texas
Unpublished

i think the guy in texas executed for arson which turned out not to be arson was white. death penalty cases are about half white.

Cassandra Harris
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Cassandra Harris 09/21/11 - 01:11 pm
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Big difference between TX and

Big difference between TX and GA cases - in TX the guilty confessed to the crime, he just denied being the one who actually drove the truck. In GA there's 7 "eyewitnesses" who have recanted and a lack of physical evidence.

Actually I'm against both executions. If they are in prison for life they are no longer a danger to society, which should be the goal instead of blind vengeance. Problem with executing is when the person is innocent you can't bring him back. Well over 100 people have been cleared by evidence such as DNA showing they could not be the perps. In Texas, a man on death row was finally let free after 2 decades in jail with everyone convinced he was the murderer and then it was found he couldn't possibly have been.

truth_be_told
222
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truth_be_told 09/21/11 - 01:16 pm
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Can someone teel me why the

Can someone teel me why the NAACP only protest when it is a black person that is being prosecuted?? Isn't that blantly racist??

happychimer
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happychimer 09/21/11 - 01:18 pm
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Ushouldnthave so those who

Ushouldnthave so those who disagree with you have their heads in the sand. Wrong! Troy Davis could be not guilty. There is too much doubt for him to be executed tonight.

Dixieman
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Dixieman 09/21/11 - 01:19 pm
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I think some posts have been

I think some posts have been deleted by the monitor so there are some replies that seem to have no antecedent.

Sweet son
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Sweet son 09/21/11 - 01:29 pm
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Cassandra, I think you have

Cassandra, I think you have your facts correct and I am glad that someone responded. It still troubles me that I wonder whether Davis or the death penalty is really the cause of those we see in the media!

justthefacts
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justthefacts 09/21/11 - 01:44 pm
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Quote from Judge Moore in his

Quote from Judge Moore in his 173 page review of Davis's case: "Ultimately, while Mr. Davis's new evidence casts some additional, minimal doubt on his conviction, it is largely smoke and mirrors. The vast majority of the evidence at trial remains intact, and the new evidence is largely not credible or lacking in probative value. After careful consideration, the Court finds that Mr. Davis has failed to make a showing of actual innocence that would entitle him to habeas relief in federal court. Accordingly, the Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus is DENIED."

BevBoudreaux
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BevBoudreaux 09/21/11 - 01:49 pm
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The Death penalty is not a

The Death penalty is not a deterrant to crime. Why i sit that the places which execute the most people have some of he highest rates of violent crime. Not a lot of violent crime up in Canada or Scandinavia.. no death penalty there. Just be honest. It's not about deterring crime but about revenge.. eye for an eye. Well maybe we should do like they do in Saudi Arabia and cut off the hands of thieves too.

broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 09/21/11 - 01:52 pm
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yes, i think that's an
Unpublished

yes, i think that's an important statement from judge moore. lots of legal eagles take exception to mant of moore's decisions. read what william sessions, former director of the fbi says about it. (sessions is pro death penalty and repeatedly has asked for clemency in this case.)

Cassandra Harris
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Cassandra Harris 09/21/11 - 01:52 pm
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Sweet - American media has

Sweet - American media has serious color issues we agree. If it makes you feel any better while women and children of all races disappear in this country it seems you only hear about the whiter ones. The media has a limited number of crayons, they give the brown ones for one type of hype, the beige ones for another.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 09/21/11 - 01:53 pm
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Carpe Noctem wrote: The point

Carpe Noctem wrote:

The point with the Davis case is, he OBVIOUSLY didn't receive a fair trial.

Well, several appellate court judges, including the U.S. Supreme Court, disagree with you.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 09/21/11 - 01:57 pm
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Associated Press wrote: The

Associated Press wrote:

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which has helped lead the charge to stop the execution, said it was considering asking President Barack Obama to intervene.

The President is busy with the Palestinians, the Libyans, the jobs/stimulus bill, Afghanistan, and the foreclosure crisis. Leave him alone.

Cassandra Harris
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Cassandra Harris 09/21/11 - 02:03 pm
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Little Lamb - You must be

Little Lamb - You must be only reading from the discussion page. Carpe Noctem (along with several others) are only appearing there, but not on the thread. Most people will have no idea what you are talking about.

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 09/21/11 - 02:09 pm
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Well, I am not an expert on

Well, I am not an expert on this case but the facts seem to be going against the guy.

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 09/21/11 - 02:40 pm
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This is an amazing case and

This is an amazing case and one that requires some research to see all of the dynamics that have taken place. Initially, I was convinced like some of you, perhaps, an innocent man was scheduled for execution. Then after additional research, I found other very pertinent information.

Look for yourselves, but here are just a couple of the highlights:
None of the witnesses appeared in court to recant. There was no testimony and no cross examination. The recantations were obtained from defense attorneys and some firm that had been hired to discuss the possibility of doubts. They did not have all of the signatures and most were not verifiable.

Troy Davis was convicted of killing another man that same day with the same gun used on the police officer and Davis did not dispute that verdict.

Still glad it isn't me making the decision, but certainly understand more after the time spent reading about it.

Ushouldnthave
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Ushouldnthave 09/21/11 - 02:44 pm
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No, Happy chimer, he was

No, Happy chimer, he was FOUND GUILTY based on evidence presented in a court of law. His GUILT has been reviewed for over 20 years by countless courts and the verdicts have consistently been UPHELD. To ignore the facts is to live with your head in the sand.

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