This is an appeal to the State of Georgia's Board of Pardons and Paroles and to the District Attorney for Chatham County for clemency and a reprieve from execution on behalf of wrongly convicted death row inmate, Troy Anthony Davis, who could once again face execution any day now.
Davis was convicted in 1991 of the 1989 murder of off-duty Savannah police officer, Mark Alan MacPhail. A majority of those witnesses who testified against Davis at his trial have recanted their testimony (seven out of nine; of the remaining two, one witness maintains his identification of Davis as MacPhail's murderer was misconstrued as such on the stand by the prosecutor, and the other witness is the self-confessed and subsequently identified actual murderer of Officer MacPhail). Davis did not receive adequate representation at his trial. All recanting witnesses for the state tell stories of police intimidation. Davis fought for nearly 17 years for a new trial based on these witnesses' recantations as well as new eye-witness testimony that confirms another person as the perpetrator of the crime for which Davis was convicted. He was denied that trial in August, 2010, subsequent to an evidentiary hearing that was held in June, 2010. Though Judge William T. Moore, Jr., opined in his ruling that the case against Davis "may not be ironclad," he nevertheless discounted new eyewitness testimony and refused to consider all of the testimony of the recanting witnesses, which could have won Davis a new, fair trial and the exoneration he deserves. On Monday, March 28, 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear Davis' appeals requesting it to compel the 11th District Federal Court in Savannah to consider this testimony and Davis' bid for a new trial.
Throughout his ordeal, Davis has continued to win worldwide support with the help of his devoted family, Amnesty International, the NAACP, his inter-faith community of supporters and friends, including Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree, former United States President and Nobel Peace laureate Jimmy Carter, Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and many others. Executing this patently innocent man would be an unconscionable act of blind vengeance and an insult to our system of jurisprudence.
The District Attorney's office has granted Davis stays of execution on three previous occasions, as Davis has exhausted his legal opportunities to gain a new, fair trial. Finality over fairness is no reason to execute a person who has not been found "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" of murder. Please ask District Attorney Larry Chisolm and the State of Georgia's Board of Pardons and Paroles to refuse to issue a warrant for execution for Troy Anthony Davis and instead grant him the clemency he deserves. Thank you.
As you are aware, Mr. Davis was given an unprecedented opportunity to present his claim of innocence at a federal district court hearing in June, 2010, subsequent to which federal judge William T. Moore, Jr., denied his request for a new trial based on the failure of his legal team to meet the extraordinarily high standard that is required in cases such as Mr. Davis', which is the standard to “clearly establish innocence” instead of the "reasonable juror" standard. Despite the fact Judge Moore acknowledged that the case against Mr. Davis “may not be ironclad,” he nevertheless refused to hear crucial testimony from all recanting witnesses, which, without doubt, impeded his ability to render a just decision. Mr. Davis' legal team then filed appeals with the Supreme Court of the United States requesting their intervention, which they declined to give on March 28, 2011.
Ultimately, we are left with the fact that the case against Mr. Davis rests on the testimony of recanted witnesses whom Judge Moore no longer trusted - despite the fact those witnesses' testimony was sufficient to convict Mr. Davis in the first place - in addition to new eyewitness testimony identifying another man as Officer MacPhail's murderer, which Judge Moore inexplicably discounted. We know that only four of the seven recanting witnesses were allowed to testify at the June, 2010, hearing that they had been pressured by investigators to lie about Mr. Davis' culpability and therefore had not told the truth at Mr. Davis' trial. Another eyewitness who was allowed to testify said that he saw a relative of his commit the murder for which Mr. Davis was subsequently convicted. These are very significant developments that cast serious doubt on Mr. Davis’ guilt. We are dismayed Judge Moore did not order a new trial for Mr. Davis, which we continue to believe he requires, in light of these developments. Furthermore, Judge Moore's admission that the case against Mr. Davis may not be ironclad mitigates against Mr. Davis' execution since his conviction is clearly not beyond a reasonable doubt - a fact Judge Moore also tacitly acknowledged by opining that the state does not have the right to execute someone who is not found guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt. Under these circumstances, there can be no doubt that Mr. Davis' continued imprisonment under the threat of paying the ultimate price for a crime for which he has not been found sufficiently guilty is both unjust and unconscionable.
Finally, we feel very strongly that the community of Savannah and the MacPhail family deserve justice for the murder of Officer MacPhail as much as does Mr. Davis. The actual perpetrator must be held accountable so that true justice and not mere blind vengeance can be served. We continue to hope they will not have long to wait.
We believe the Board that acted with such strong moral conviction once by signing an Order Suspending the Execution of Sentence of Death that it issued on July 16, 2007, in which it said, “The members of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles 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,” has a duty to continue its unwavering commitment to justice for Mr. Davis, the MacPhail family, and the Savannah community by granting Mr. Davis clemency in the event the District Attorney does not grant him a reprieve from execution.
Very sincerely yours,