Troy Davis Speaks Out!

Interview from death row.

Troy with family
By: Marlene Martin and Troy Davis

This is an interview with Georgia death row prisoner Troy Anthony Davis, who has been wrongfully incarcerated on death row for nearly 20 years. As of this writing, Troy’s life is in grave danger.

In spite of a court hearing ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court, during which compelling and convincing evidence of Troy’s innocence was presented, Troy has had his motions for a new trial denied again. U.S. District Judge William Moore admitted that the case against Troy was not “ironclad,” even as he rejected Troy’s plea for a new trial. And in March 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court shamefully declined to step in and rectify this miscarriage of justice, leaving the lower courts’ ruling in place.

This case screams out “unfairness”—yet Troy has never been able to get evidence of his innocence presented to a jury. There has never been any physical evidence—no murder weapon, no fingerprints, no DNA—that pointed to Troy as the person who shot and killed Officer Mark MacPhail in a Burger King parking lot in Savannah, Ga., in 1989. The evidence against Troy comes down to nine witnesses presented by prosecutors at Troy’s trial—and seven of them have since recanted their original testimony, with most saying they had been coerced by the police to implicate Troy.

As of this writing, little stands in the way of Georgia setting an execution date, which would be Troy’s fourth. Executions were on hold in Georgia while state officials tried to figure out which drugs should be used in lethal injection executions. But a new “killing drug regime” has been decided on, and executions are likely to start up again.

We need to act now to spread the word far and wide. We need to let Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole know that Troy Davis deserves to live.

Marlene Martin interviewed Troy Davis by mail for the New Abolitionist.

Troy, we heard the sad news that you lost your mom recently, someone who was very supportive of you over the years. We want to express our sympathy at this difficult time. How are you coping with the loss?

The loss of my mother was a complete shock, very painful at first, but people need to realize she was a woman of great faith and so am I. I gave that pain to God—I can carry it no more. Those who walk by faith understand.

My mother was very strong and religious. She treated everyone she met like family and led by example. If I could trade her for another I would refuse to do so because she was one of a kind—“a giant in a small body” and “a walking angel.”

The U.S. Supreme Court recently turned down your appeal, leaving in place Judge William Moore’s decision not allowing you a new trial. What is your reaction to this decision?

The Supreme Court was hoping Judge Moore would grant me a new trial so it wouldn’t have to. However, within the first 10 minutes of my hearing, I sensed tension and bias from Judge Moore. I expected nothing less coming from a court in Savannah.

The courts keep passing my case along because my case exposes everything flawed about the death penalty. No court or judge wants to be responsible for allowing this case to force authorities to end the death penalty and have to worry about a floodgate of innocence being revealed.

In June 2010, you were finally allowed an evidentiary hearing where evidence of your innocence was heard before a judge—including recanted testimony from several witnesses, as well as new witnesses who said another man, Sylvester Coles, admitted he had committed the crime. Why isn’t this enough for you to get a new trial? 

It is enough to grant me a new trial. In fact, it’s more than enough. But this is more about the system than my innocence. Research will show that the Georgia state Supreme Court and 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have overturned hundreds of cases with just one or two recanted witnesses. Georgia feels it’s better to kill me than admit I’m innocent.

Ask yourselves how can someone be convicted and face execution with no evidence against them? If the district attorney had the right man, then out of all the physical evidence they have, how come my DNA and fingerprints don’t match any of it?

If the recanted witnesses are lying, then why hasn’t the state produced the interrogation tapes for all seven? The state claims it doesn’t have interrogation tapes of any of the seven witnesses who have recanted. They only turned over two tapes—one of Sylvester Coles pointing the finger at me and the other of someone they never called at trial. Why don’t they show the handwritten statements of these witnesses? Because it would prove Troy Davis was and continues to be framed by Savannah and now the state of Georgia. 

The media isn’t allowed to come into the prison and interview you. What would you say to the media that they seem to be so determined doesn’t get out?

The truth about my case, about the judicial system, and about the prison system in Georgia. Since I’ve been on death row, I’ve witnessed several people who got their sentence and convictions overturned. 

People on death row are painted as monsters—as cold-blooded killers. If the cameras were rolling, what would people when they saw Troy Davis interviewed on film? 

They would see their brother, son, father. Someone beaten, but strong. Someone they know. What would confuse them is the fact that after all I’ve been through, I’m still smiling. They would see a human being who refused to give up, who refuses to hate and who loves life. They would see the humble face of innocence.

You have often said this case is much bigger than you. What do you mean by that?

My case is about “Justice denied to the poor and innocent. My case brings a face to injustice by showing how so many innocent people are being framed and denied justice. My case tells the world why the death penalty and this system of death needs to be abolished all over the world. 

If you were white and the son of a senator, do you think the evidence presented at your evidentiary hearing would have been enough to win you a new trial?

Yes. However, I would not have even been indicted in the first place with such a lack of evidence. What this says is that there is still bias and racism in the criminal justice system when it comes to the poor and people of color. Had I been the son of a senator, I would have never been arrested, not until every “i” was dotted and every “t” was crossed.

What would you like for your supporters to know? What should they be doing to try to save your life?

If we never give up, we can win. We need to let our elected officials know that they work for the citizens of this country, and as citizens, we refuse to stand around and let innocent people continue to be abused by the system. We will not stand for innocent people being executed, tortured or tossed into prison anymore. I’m alive because God placed it in your hearts to get involved and be the solution that erases this problem.

So many people have joined together to free me, and it moves my heart in a joyous way to feel so much love and know one day that the world will celebrate with my family as I walk free. Then I can truly help change the system so that humanity and justice can really overcome evil and injustice in a system that has killed too many innocent in the name of justice.           

 My supporters can write U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, asking to appoint a special investigator to my case. Encourage religious leaders to get out the churches, mosques, etc., and speak out. Write letters, sign petitions, tweet and make calls to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia Parole Board and media to stop this pending execution and grant me my freedom, new trial or clemency.

Please be a voice for me and get involved. Saving my life will save thousands of others just like me. You’re making a big difference.

A voice is just a whisper in the wind unless it is used to speak up for a cause that brings positive change to the voiceless. Don’t expect change—create it by getting involved. I’m already free because of every voice speaking up on my behalf.

Thank you and God bless you all.