Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Reprieved – for now

Hours before he was scheduled to die for a murder he almost certainly did not commit, Troy Anthony Davis received a 90 day stay of execution.

The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles will now review new evidence. Which means Davis may be "pardoned" for a crime of which is is innocent. Or paroled on his conviction. In either case he'll go through life bearing the stigma of a murder conviction even if he didn't commit the murder.

Or perhaps he'll go to his death after the whole 90 day process is over.

"Review" by a parole board isn't nearly enough. Davis deserves a fair trial -- with competent attorneys able to give this trial their full attention, unlike the overwhelmed public defense attorneys who said they had to practice "triage" during his capital murder trial.

Moreover, given the resistance of the district attorney's office and testimony that cops evidently pressured witnesses to the crime into testifying to something other than the truth, justice won't be served until heads roll in the Savannah, GA police department and district attorney's office.

Ironically, the Chatham County, GA, DA's office offers a "Witness Assistance Program" to protect people who have seen a crime. http://www.chathamcounty.org/vwap.html

But will they protect the witnesses who were bullied into testifying falsely? Especially since the bullying was done by police supplying their "evidence" to the DA?

Don't count on it.

Final note: Along with Davis himself and his family, a tragic figure in this case is Joan McPhail, wife of the slain police officer for whose murder Davis was sentenced to death.

“I believe they are setting a precedent for all criminals that it is perfectly fine to kill a cop and get away with it,” the New York Times quoted her as saying. hhttp://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/17/us/17execute.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

How will she feel if Davis is executed and then, later, another person is convicted of the crime?

She will be a victim all over again.

Finally, we need a repeal of the so-called Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which prevents exculpatory evidence from getting falsely convicted prisoners a deserved appeal. Please do write your Senators and Congressional representatives.

Anyway, we'll check back in October to see where this fiasco stands.

Apology: For some reason my links don't seem to be linking today. They should, however, work if you copy and paste them into your browser. Sorry -- and ah, the mysteries of technology!

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