Tim McKinney's fight for freedom

Socialist Worker
Monday, April 26, 2010

Tim McKinney is a prisoner on Tennessee's death row, wrongfully convicted of killing a Memphis off-duty police officer on Christmas night in 1997.

An African American man accused of killing a white police officer, Tim's trial was plagued by inadequate representation and prosecutorial misconduct. He was sentenced to death in 1999 after a two-day trial, during which the prosecution presented no physical evidence connecting him to the crime. Over 40 witnesses testified in Tim's defense at his appeal in 2006.

Last month, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in favor of Tim's appeal and ordered a new trial. Tim's supporters are gearing up with a campaign calling on Memphis district attorneys to drop the charges and grant Tim his freedom. Here, Tim thanks his supporters and talks about the fight ahead for his freedom.

Timothy McKinneyTimothy McKinney

Dear friends and allies,

I am extremely excited to share some good news of our struggle here in Tennessee. On March 9, 2010, a unanimous panel of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals vacated my conviction and ordered a new trial.

Being granted a new trial is definitely a huge victory. It's a major step forward and a taste of the chance of obtaining my freedom. It's truly a blessing in itself. But the state has the chance to file a petition for review--meaning, they can appeal the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

The fight isn't over yet. We are celebrating this victory, but only in part. We clearly understand that the district attorney's office has the option to re-try the case.

This is a critical phase, and now is the time to take advantage of the opportunity to put an end to this horrific experience of injustice. It's vital that peoples' voices are heard, and that we put pressure on the DA's office not to re-try this case, but to drop the charges.

I gratefully thank the Campaign to End the Death Penalty and all the families, friends and supporters for faithfully fighting, witnessing and continuing to share our voices with the public. I also want to thank you for allowing me the opportunities to participate and express my thoughts, views and my struggle during the "Live From Death Row" speaking tour last year. It introduced me to new people, new ideas and new communities of faith.

It's very important to continue to produce powerful events like the tour to uncover the myriad problems within this unjust system. It has been a true blessing to come to know and learn about so many incredible men and women faithfully witnessing against this cruel injustice.

All of your efforts, energy and passion plays a critical role in helping empower each one of us to continue hammering away at that wall until, finally, it can no longer stand.

The wall will crumble, it's already beginning to crack. With all of your relentless strength and courage, it's a must that we hold those sitting in judgment accountable. Pressure will help bring freedom and justice toward a better world and a just society.

Again, I thank you! And please continue to keep up the good fight.

Sincerely, with great respect,
Tim McKinney

What you can do

For updates on Tim Mckinney's case, or to get involved, visit www.timmckinney.org.

For information about how you can join the fight against the death penalty in your area, visit the Campaign to End the Death Penalty Web site.