Our voices are being heard

Interview with Troy Davis

By: Campaign to End the Death Penalty

Georgia death row prisoner Troy Davis was denied justice once again when federal Judge William T. Moore dismissed the evidence of his innocence presented by his lawyers earlier this year. Here, Troy answers questions about his case and the struggle against the death penalty.

Were you surprised when you heard that the judge had denied you a new trial?

I wasn’t surprised by the judge’s ruling at all. I’m sure all those who attended my evidentiary hearing in Savannah can say the same. Judge Moore blatantly showed bias by attacking my witnesses and defense team as a whole. Although I wished he had granted me a new trial, this is a Savannah judge, and the entire system down there needs to be reviewed by federal authorities.

What does this say about our court system that you were denied a new trial, even though you put forward evidence that so clearly points to your innocence?

This denial should prove to the American people and others around the world that for poor and middle-class citizens, there is no justice. Those placed in charge of our rights would rather deny justice than admit the justice system is flawed. They’ll protect the system and ignore clear-cut coercion before making a ruling that would force a change to death penalty laws and the laws that keep an innocent man like myself and others from walking free.

At the parole board hearing in 2008, the district attorney told board members they had bloody shorts that linked me to the McPhail’s murder. This lie sparked the board to object to clemency and allow my execution.

This same lie was produced by the attorney general’s office at the evidentiary hearing—page 161 in a footnote, and I quote, “The State introduced evidence regarding Mr. Davis’s ‘bloody shorts.’ However, even the State conceded that this evidence lacked any probative value of guilt, submitting it only to show what the board of pardons and paroles had before it. Indeed, there was insufficient DNA to determine who the blood belonged to, so the shorts in no way linked Mr. Davis to the murder of Officer McPhail, etc. Moreover, it’s not even clear that the substance was blood.”

This deception almost cost me my life. This lie by the prosecution and attorney general should prove to any judge that something stinks in Savannah, and it’s not the green water. No gun, no physical evidence, just coerced testimony put me on death row. On June 28, 2003, Spenser Lawton was investigated for prosecutorial misconduct. For all those who support the death penalty, please rethink your support before another innocent life is snuffed out by a broken system.

As an innocent person on death row, do you have difficulty advocating abolition of the death penalty for those that are guilty? And if the real person who murdered Officer McPhail were known, would you want him executed?

After living around guilty individuals for so long, I’ve realized 85 percent or more would rather die than have a life without parole sentence. Every fight in prison is a potential murder. And everyone can become a victim behind these walls.

The death penalty is completely wrong because if your attorney failed to prove your innocence, you’re dead. All the state has to do is get a few people to lie and then withhold evidence long enough for your appeals to run out—my case is a prime example.

I would not want the person who commited this crime to get the death penalty because his family would suffer, and then he would. And there is no closure, even if someone is executed. Plus, I don’t believe man should be able to carry out vengeance. I believe and have seen many people in prison change. 

How important will activism be in the months ahead? 

Activists need to step up now. Petition our congress to end the death penalty. Ask them to pass the bill that Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson tried to introduce on my behalf to Congress.

The world is watching and listening—so use my case to force an end to the death penalty. Organizations need to join together for the same cause.   Push now and let’s end the death penalty as well as injustice in America. 

What keeps you hopeful and gives you the strength to keep on fighting? 

I find strength in my faith in God. God saved me from three executions already, so I know, despite what’s before me, God can turn it all around and encourage man to release me. God is behind my being alive, and he has a purpose just for me. Evil will not prevail when God is for you. Innocence matters! CEDP, NAACP and Amnesty all have been a major help.

What message would you like to send to people on the outside who are fighting for you?

Your support and prayers have made a difference. Views are being changed. In our fight, stand tall and push harder because God intended a grand purpose for all of us. Even if you don’t believe in God, believe in change, in justice and in innocence. 

Through all of you, the death penalty is being erased. You made a difference, and if we keep fighting, I along with every innocent person will walk free again. Our voices are being heard around the world.