Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Georgia execution of Troy Anthony Davis brought back unpleasant memories (Videos)


On  Wednesday, September 21, 2011 Americans and people all over the world were cognizant that Troy Davis, a 42-year-old Africa American man from Georgia, was going to be executed for a crime he said he did not commit. Previously, he had requested a polygraph test but the request was blocked by prison officials. Davis's lawyer petitioned the Supreme Court to stop the execution, but it refused, giving no explanation. The four hour wait to get the word from the Supreme Court was an intense nail-biter. The Court was Davis' the last hope.

Ed Jackson, reporter for The Guardian, a British newspaper, was in Georgia was the execution. He wrote, "Even if you set aside the issue of Davis' innocence or guilt, the manner of his execution tonight is cruel and unnatural.

"If the execution goes ahead as expected, it would be the fourth scheduled execution date for this prisoner. In 2008 he was given a stay just 90 minutes before he was set to die. Experts in death row say such  multiple experiences with  imminent death is tantamount to torture."

After the Supreme Court's decision was announced, Davis was wheeled into Georgia's death chamber at 10:53 pmHe was pronounced dead at 11:08. Amy Goodman of  Democracy Now interviewed  radio journalist Jon Lewis after the execution. He related with happened.

"Basically, it went very quietly. The MacPhail family and friends sat in the first row. Warden read the order, asked if Troy Davis had anything to say. And Davis lifted his head up, looked at that first row, and made a statement, in which he said—he wanted to talk to the MacPhail family and said that, despite the situation you’re in, he was not the one who did it. He said that he was not personally responsible for what happened that night, that he did not have a gun.

"He said to the family that he was sorry for their loss, but also said that he did not take their son, father, brother. He said to them to dig deeper into this case, to find out the truth. He asked his family and—his family and friends to keep praying, to keep working and keep the faith. And then he said to the prison staff, the ones he said 'who are going to take my life,' he said to them, 'May God have mercy on your souls." And his last words were to them: 'May God bless your souls.' Then he put his head back down, the procedure began, and about 15 minutes later it was over."'

At the conclusion of the prosecution and defense attorney summations, August 28, 1991, it took a jury less than two hours to find of Troy Davis guilty of murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and obstruction of a law enforcement officer. Addressing the jury Davis pleaded that his life be spared. He asked the jury to " .  .  . just give me a chance. That's all I ask. He told the jury he was charged with "offenses I didn't commit." On August 30, 1991, after seven hours of deliberation, the jury recommended that Davis get the death penalty. He had three execution dates and three stays before September 21, 2011.

Davis was the eldest child of four. He was the son of Korean War veteran Joseph Davis, and Virginia Davis. They divorced when Davis was young. He grew up in a middle class neighborhood in Savannah, Georgia.
Troy Anthony Davis
Mark MacPhail
 What happened the night officer McPhail was killed

In the early morning hours of August 19, 1989, several people including Troy Davis and Sylvester “Redd” Coles, were hanging out near a Burger King parking lot adjoined to a Greyhound bus station in Savannah, Georgia.  Coles started arguing with a homeless man named Larry Young, demanding that Young give him a beer.

As Young walked away, he was pistol-whipped, the gun striking his head. Police officer Mark MacPhail, serving off-duty as a security guard at the bus station, responded to a call for help. As he came running to Young’s rescue he was shot and killed by the same man who had attacked Young. The day after the shooting Coles went to the police station with his lawyer and said Troy Davis was the shooter.

Seven eyewitnesses who said they saw what happened, later recanted their testimony. Endeavoring to correct their original testimony was not convincing enough to derail Davis' execution. The last ray of hope was killed when the U. S. Supreme Court denied a stay without comment. Reportedly, there was no physical evidence connecting Davis to the fatal shooting.

Watching the pending execution of Troy Anthony Davis on television Wednesday night I felt jittery, overcome with nervous energy. I could not explain my reaction to myself or anyone else. I got on my treadmill, where I walked for one solid hour. And then I remembered the day I got a letter from my cousin, Charles H. Rector, informing me that his execution date had been set. I felt a burst of nervous energy, so much so that I ironed clothes I had set aside for almost a year. I felf lost and helpless. I finally concluded I was reliving that March 25, 1999 execution in Texas all over again.

Mark MacPhail was 27 years old when he was killed in 1989. He was married and the father of a two-year-old daughter and an infant son. He joined the Savannah Police Department in 1986 after spending six years in the military as a Army Ranger. The son of an Army Colonel, MacPhail was a patrol officer for three years. In 1989, seeking a career change within the police department, he applied to train as a mounted policeman.

Mark MacPhail was laid to rest August 22, 1989 at the Trinity Lutheran Church.

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