Monday, July 16, 2007

Stay of Execution

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles granted Troy Anthony Davis a stay of execution for up to 90 days to allow them to review the overwhelming evidence against Davis's guilt.

Davis should not only not be executed -- but he should be awarded a brand new trial.

Earlier, Howling Latina found some small comfort in the fact the board chairman deciding Davis's fate had as a young man attended a mostly black university and earned both his undergraduate and law degrees at Howard University.

It looks like her hopeful optimism might've been well founded. Had the Board not intervened, poor Davis would have died tomorrow evening.

The Associated Press via Access North Georgia reports that "lawyers for Davis spent more than five hours pleading with the board to grant a reprieve to their client."
The board's options included commuting Davis' death sentence to life in prison or granting a stay of his execution while it considers the issues. Among those who argued for clemency for Davis during Monday's parole board hearing were friends, family and U.S. Representative John Lewis, an Atlanta Democrat and civil rights icon.Davis's lawyer said five witnesses who testified at trial spoke to the board on his behalf.
The prosecution team argued their case this afternoon. Family and friends of the victim also testified that "Davis received a fair trial and has had plenty of appeals, all of which...failed."

Guess victim friends and relatives are now legal scholars.

Well, it was their only argument, for they could hardly rebut defense's main contention that the trial had been rigged because investigators strong-armed witnesses. And never mind that 1 out 5 from the jury pool had to be dismissed for bias and prejudice. Or that prosecutors "exercise[d] a disproportionate percentage of strikes against African Americans."

Just keep repeating the mantra, "The trial was fair...the trial was fair...the trial was fair...

But hell, even a biased jury would not have convicted Davis without the testimony of the nine lying witnesses. The jury solely and exclusively relied on their testimony to convict and sentence Davis to the death chamber. There was no physical evidence tying Davis to the murder.

Six have subsequently sworn in affidavits that they were browbeaten by police and falsely testified in court. The only claim left is the specious one that the trial was fair.

Dear sweet folks, the criminal justice system has four components: arrest, trial, appeal and punishment.

So it's not okay for the arrest element to be corrupted through police intimidation; and it's certainly not okay for witnesses to subsequently lie as a result. And it's definitely not okay to kill someone just so that authorities can move on.

Guess prosecutors figured someone had to pay for killing a police officer. So what if the poor sap convicted was innocent? Just as long as the murder was officially solved and closed.

Sure wish news account had noted whether the other three so-called witnesses are in the criminal justice system and might have reason to fear reprisal if they, too, recant their testimony.

Update: The Associated Press via MSNBC reports that attorneys for Davis say that seven witnesses have now either recanted or contradicted their testimony. In affidavits, three people said that another man, Sylvester Coles, admitted that he was the killder after Davis was convicted and sentenced to die. It was Mr. Coles who initially identified Davis as the killer.

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