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Troy Davis, A Victim Of An Unfair System?


Troy Davis, an American citizen was executed by lethal injection in the state of Georgia on Wednesday, September 21 after 20 years on death row.
Davis was convicted of the August 19, 1989, murder of police officer Mark MacPhail in Savannah, Georgia. MacPhail was working as a security guard at a Burger King when he intervened to defend a man being assaulted in a nearby parking lot. During Davis’ 1991 trial, witnesses testified they had seen Davis shoot MacPhail, and two others testified that Davis confessed to them. Although the murder weapon was not recovered, ballistic evidence presented at trial tied bullets recovered at or near the scene to those at another shooting in which Davis was also charged. Davis was convicted of murder and various lesser charges, including the earlier shooting, and was sentenced to death in August 1991.
As the trial progressed, seven out of nine eyewitnesses signed affidavits changing or recanting all or part of their testimony. The limited ability to appeal his conviction, due in part to the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act brought his plight to international attention. Prosecutors argued that it was too late to present the recantations as evidence. Davis however maintained his innocence. Various appeals in state and federal courts followed his conviction. Davis and his lawyers argued that the racial composition of the jury (seven of the twelve were black, as is Davis) and poor advocacy from his lawyers had affected his right to a fair trial.
Some of the witnesses also stated that they had felt pressure by police to implicate Davis. Witnesses implicated another witness, Sylvester “Redd” Coles, in the crime. The appeals were however denied with state and federal courts declaring that Davis had not provided a “substantive claim” of innocence and that the recantations were unpersuasive. In July 2007, September 2008, and October 2008, execution dates were scheduled, but each execution was stayed shortly before it was to take place.
Davis was scheduled to be killed at 7pm in Jackson, Georgia on Wednesday, but a last minute manoeuvre brought the execution to a halt. The United States Supreme Court said they would spend 90 minutes to consider a stay on Davis’ execution. It was later announced that the execution would go on.
Davis issued a statement through Amnesty International after the Georgia Paroles Board denied him clemency, it reads in part: “the struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I’m in good spirits and I’m prayerful and at peace. But I will not stop fighting until I’ve taken my last breath.”
The execution of Troy Davis began around 11pm and he was reported dead at 11:08.
The execution has generated a lot of comments as many wondered why Davis still had to die even after most of the witnesses that stood trial have since recanted their testimonies in part or in full.
For some time to come, it will remain a subject of debate whether justice was truly done in the Troy Davis case or not.

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