On Sept. 19, 2008, I appealed to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant clemency to Troy Anthony Davis, who was facing execution for the tragic murder of Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail. I write now to renew my appeal for clemency in this case.
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review Mr. Davis’ first appeal and he now faces his fourth execution date. It would be immoral to execute Davis, given the serious doubts that remain about his guilt. In the final hearing on the case, Davis’ attorneys failed to meet a standard of proof of innocence the judge himself called “extraordinarily high,” but doubts about his guilt were not resolved. Instead, the Troy Davis case is doomed to remain mired in doubt and uncertainty. The lack of physical or scientific evidence that can be objectively tested – and the almost total dependence, by both sides, on less reliable forms of evidence such as witness testimony – means that neither side is likely to make much headway toward proving innocence or guilt with any degree of certainty.
When the board suspended Troy Davis’ first execution date in July 2007, it assured the public that the board “will not allow an execution to proceed in this state unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused.” Yet doubt persists in this case, and will persist unless more solid and trustworthy forms of evidence emerge. An execution under these circumstances would undermine public confidence in Georgia’s criminal justice system. Granting clemency is the only way to assure the people of Georgia that their state will not permit an injustice as severe and irreversible as a wrongful execution.
I urge the board to grant clemency and commute Troy Davis’ sentence without delay.