Sunday, 8 July 2007

Davis family portrays murder convict as prayerful, kind

Davis family portrays murder convict as prayerful, kind

1A | Intown | Local News

Martina Correia says trial transcripts, newspaper stories, family photos and copies of evidence prove her brother, Troy Anthony Davis, didn't kill Mark MacPhail. Davis is scheduled to be executed July 17 for the 1989 slaying of the Savannah police officer. (Photo: Carl Elmore)

Martina Correia believes her brother, Troy Anthony Davis, did not murder Mark MacPhail. She claims another man killed the Savannah policeman. Davis' execution is slated July 17. (Photo: Carl Elmore)

Virginia Davis says her son, Troy Anthony Davis, is not a killer but a caring young man that made many sacrifices to help his family. (Photo: Carl Elmore)

Troy Anthony Davis received his high school diploma, his sister said.

The Rev. Samuel Williams, pastor of Faith Missionary Baptist Church, is president of the Inter-denominational Ministerial Alliance. (Photo: Carl Elmore)

The family of Troy Anthony Davis remembers how he left Windsor Forest High School to care for a paralyzed sister while his mother worked.

And how he spent his own money so neighborhood kids could have ice cream on a hot summer day.

They say he is not the man prosecutors have portrayed as a cold-blooded killer who awaits execution in the 1989 slaying of off-duty police officer Mark Allen MacPhail.

"The Troy Davis I knew, and the Troy Davis I know now, is still the same person," said Martina Correia, his older sister who has spent 15 years trying to get his conviction thrown out.

"Troy has always been a very prayerful, very kind person," she said.

On Aug. 28, 1991, a Chatham County Superior Court jury convicted Davis, now 38, of killing MacPhail in the parking lot of the Greyhound Bus Station/Burger King restaurant on Oglethorpe Avenue.

The jury recommended the death sentence.

The officer, 27, was shot twice with a .38-caliber pistol as he tried to break up a fight in the early hours of Aug. 19, 1989. He never unholstered his weapon.

Prosecutors said Davis shot MacPhail once in the heart while the officer was standing, then a second time in the face as he lay on the parking lot.

Davis fled to Atlanta ahead of a massive manhunt but later surrendered to authorities Aug. 23, 1989.

No court reviews

Davis consistently has said he is innocent, but a number of courts have refused to intervene.

When the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request by attorneys for Davis for a final review June 25, the denial exhausted his appeals.

"I was very shocked they didn't write a dissenting opinion," Correia said. "That didn't mean Troy's case did not have any merit."

Only a July 16 clemency hearing before the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles stands between Davis and death by lethal injection the next day at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center at Jackson.

His supporters contend the conviction was not based on physical evidence, that no murder weapon was ever found and that prosecution witnesses have since recanted their testimony.

They plan to rally in Atlanta on Tuesday and deliver about 3,000 letters and postcards in support of clemency for Davis, according to Amnesty International USA officials.

'Everyone convinced'

"I don't think it would have mattered what Troy said in that courtroom," Correia said. "Everyone was convinced he did it.

"That jury was feeding on what they had heard for the last two years. Troy Davis was a cop killer."

Correia has memorized large portions of the trial transcript and can point to areas she said make no sense, or that show police coercion or are based on unreliable witnesses.

"There was police and prosecutoral misconduct in this case," she said.

Detectives "pressured, pressured, pressured" witnesses until they got tired and signed prepared statements containing lies, Correia said.

"Everything is not as black and white as it looks," she said. "If Troy is so guilty, why are we in such a hurry to kill him? They don't want people to know.

"Where is the evidence against Mr. Davis? I say to you: You don't have any."

Correia said her brother graduated from Richard Arnold High School in 1987 and was getting ready to join the U.S. Marine Corps in the summer of 1989.

Virginia Davis, Troy Davis' mother, is more succinct.

"I don't believe that my son got a fair trial," she said. "My son was in there (the courtroom) fighting for his life, and I should have been in there with him."


Both women said they were barred from the courtroom during the trial because prosecutors listed them as potential witnesses.

"There was a lot of hatred directed against my brother and my entire family," Correia said.

Virginia Davis recalled how her son worked, then cashed his check and left $80 on her dresser each payday to help pay for groceries.

Or how he could be counted on to do his chores each weekend.

"Most young men wouldn't do that. He did," she said.

The Rev. Samuel Williams, pastor of Faith Missionary Baptist Church and president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, also has questions.

"Based on what I have heard and what I know about the case, it seems to be a miscarriage of justice," Williams said. "I don't know.

"I think there is a grave discrepancy between process and perception. Once people develop a perception, it becomes the truth. ... It becomes more powerful than the truth."

Williams said he hopes the pardons and paroles board moves toward clemency for Davis.

On June 25, the board conducted a clemency hearing for John Hightower, 68, in a July 1987 conviction.

He was executed a day later.

If Davis is executed, both the Davis and the MacPhail families lose, Correia said.

"I want justice for Mark MacPhail, just like she (Mrs. MacPhail) does," Correia said.

"I'm on death row just like Troy," she said. "My entire family have been. You're not just killing that person. You're killing their families."


It took the jury just under two hours Aug. 28, 1991, to find Troy Anthony Davis guilty of:

Malice murder by fatally shooting off-duty police officer Mark Allen MacPhail twice while he was working as a security guard for the Greyhound Bus Terminal.

Obstructing MacPhail in the performance of his official duties.

Possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Aggravated assault by shooting Michael Cooper in Cloverdale about an hour before the MacPhail slaying.

Aggravated assault by pistol-whipping Larry Young in the parking lot of the Burger King restaurant before MacPhail was killed.

The same jury took more than seven hours over two days to recommend the death penalty. They based their recommendation on:

MacPhail, a peace officer, was slain while in engaged in official duties.

MacPhail's "murder was outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhumane in that it involved depravity of mind or aggravated battery to the victim prior to his death."

Chatham County Superior Court Judge James W. Head imposed the death sentence Aug. 30, 1991.

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