Troy Davis – Guilty Beyond A Reasonable Doubt?
In these enlightened times of social networking, smartphone usage, and the Interweb, it is difficult to encounter a person that does not have an opinion on the likes of a Casey Anthony or an OJ Simpson. Stories of alleged murderers who beat the system tug on the heartstrings of citizens who otherwise generally have zero interest in the American justice system. Unilateral discussions filled with conspiracy theories, monetary allegiances, politics, race, sex, and religious perspective erupt around water coolers across the globe during lunch breaks while 24/7 media coverage saturates. My Facebook status update following the Casey Anthony verdict read, “I wish there was as much outrage for an innocent person that gets convicted as there is for an allegedly guilty person who walks free.” Apparently, the planet must frequent my Facebook page because the conviction and execution of Georgia native Troy Davis is forcing everyone to take a look at the intricacies of the aging US justice system.
My personal opinion has always been that in the event that a person commits an act to intentionally cause the death of another human being, the perpetrator is deserving of death. My hard-earned tax dollars shouldn’t go to paying for a convicted murderer’s Metamucil as he or she ages into their twilight inside a cell.
I am not alone in this way of thinking: a Gallup Poll conducted in November of 2010 showed that 64 percent of American citizens support the death penalty for persons convicted of murder. I’m just going to go ahead and assume that America’s support of the death penalty is contingent upon an overwhelming, unquestionable level of evidence — essentially the smoking gun. And the lack of that smoking gun is what ultimately has so many people everywhere riled up about the execution of alleged cop killer Troy Davis. In actuality, a gun was never recovered at all.
The facts of the case are simple enough: On August 19th, 1989, Troy Davis and Sylvester “Redd” Coles assaulted homeless man Larry Young over a beer in a Burger King parking lot next to the bus station at which off-duty police officer Mark Macphail was working security. Officer MacPhail rushed to break up the altercation and was shot to death as a result of intervening. The next day, Sylvester Coles went to the police and stated that Troy Davis assaulted Larry Young the night before while he was in possession of a .38 caliber gun. Interestingly, it would just so happen that the bullets that killed Officer MacPhail were fired from a .38 caliber firearm. The only physical evidence recovered from the scene were .38 caliber rounds. The morning following the assault of Larry Young, Troy Davis turned himself in to police custody.
Based primarily upon the prosecution’s 34 witness testimonies, Troy Davis was found guilty of Officer MacPhail’s murder and sentenced to death on August 30th, 1991. And that, as they say, is where the plot thickens.
After the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the lowers court’s conviction, a 70 percent federal funding cut to the Georgia Resource Center led to Troy Davis losing access to the majority of its investigators and lawyers. An affidavit by the Executive Director of the Resource Center stated, “There were numerous witnesses that we knew should have been interviewed but we lacked the resources to do so.”
Then, after 1996, seven of the nine key eyewitnesses in the prosecution’s case against Troy Davis recanted all or part of their testimony that was used during the trial. One witness stated that she felt “under pressure from police to identify Davis as the shooter because she was on a parole conviction for shoplifting.” Another witness affidavit stated that the police convinced him to falsely testify by leveraging the threat of accessory charges against him. Three others stated that their previous testimony had been coerced by police force and not by free will. And to make matters even worse, another three witnesses stated that Sylvester Coles had confessed the murder to them personally. All of these signed affidavits resulted to nothing as the ruling Judge stated that they were “insufficient to raise doubts.” The rest of the story plays out with countless appeals being denied until Troy Davis’ execution on September 21st, 2011.
The purpose of this article is not to imply that Troy Davis was innocent, as many other outlets have taken the liberty of doing. The purpose of this article is to inspire you, the reader, to take a good hard look at the “Cliff’s Notes” of the facts from the case, and to hopefully compel you to make a logic-based determination as to whether or not you could be sure that Troy Davis was guilty if you were on that jury.
Based solely on the facts of the case, do you believe that Troy Davis was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt? Did the American justice system fail Troy Davis? If enough people say that something happened, does it mean that it happened? Is it constitutional for a person be put to death in a murder case with no fingerprints, no surveillance footage, and no DNA evidence? It’s questions like these that are what I believe is pissing off the world so much. After analyzing the evidence, it is quite possible that the right man was punished for the murder of Officer Mark MacPhail. The problem is that in regards to a man being incarcerated and put to death by execution, “quite possible” just shouldn’t be enough.