Tuesday, 17 July 2007

USA (Georgia) Troy Anthony Davis (m), black, aged 38


Note: Please write on behalf of these persons even though you may not have
received the original UA when issued on July 3, 2007. Thanks!

17 July 2007

Further information on UA 170/07 (3 July 2007) - Death penalty / Legal

USA (Georgia) Troy Anthony Davis (m), black, aged 38

On 16 July, less than 24 hours before Troy Davis was scheduled to be
executed in Georgia, the state Board of Pardons and Paroles issued a stay
of execution, to be not longer than 90 days, ''for the purpose of
evaluating and analyzing'' the information submitted to it during the
clemency hearing earlier in the day.

Troy Davis has been on death row for more than 15 years for the murder of
a police officer which he maintains he did not commit. Many of the
witnesses presented by the prosecution at the trial have since recanted or
contradicted their testimony. Among the thousands of people who have
appealed for clemency are Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former FBI Director
William Sessions, and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. The
case has also generated substantial coverage in the media, with widespread
recognition that the evidence against Troy Davis, as an editorial in the
Los Angeles Times put it, is ''shaky''.

In its order staying the execution, the parole board wrote that its
members ''will not allow an execution to proceed in this State unless and
until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of
the accused''. It further noted that ''those representing Troy Anthony
Davis have asserted that they can and will present live witnesses and
other evidence to the members of the Board to support their contention
that there remains some doubt as to his guilt''. It ordered that the
execution be suspended until midnight on 14 October 2007, or earlier if
the board issues another order lifting the stay.

Troy Davis was convicted in August 1991 of the murder of 27- year-old
Officer Mark Allen MacPhail (note corrected spelling), who was shot and
killed in the car park of a Burger King fast food restaurant in Savannah,
Georgia, in the early hours of 19 August 1989. Troy Davis was also
convicted of assaulting Larry Young, a homeless man, who was accosted and
struck across the face with a pistol immediately before Officer MacPhail
was shot. At the trial, Troy Davis admitted that he had been at the scene
of the shooting, but claimed that he had neither assaulted Larry Young nor
shot Officer MacPhail.

There was no physical evidence against Troy Davis and the weapon used in
the crime was never found. The case against him consisted entirely of
witness testimony. In affidavits signed over the years since the trial,
all but three of the state's non-police witnesses have recanted their
testimony. One of the three non-recanting witnesses is a man who has not
been located for interview by Davis's appeal lawyers. Another, while not
recanting, has contradicted her trial testimony. The third non-police
witness who has not recanted his testimony is Sylvester Coles, who was the
principle alternative suspect, according to the defense at the trial, and
against whom there is new witness testimony implicating him as the gunman.

Others have recanted their testimony against Troy Davis. In 1989, Kevin
McQueen was detained in the same jail as Davis. McQueen told the police
that during this time Troy Davis had confessed to shooting Officer
MacPhail. In a 1996 affidavit, McQueen retracted this statement, saying
that he had given it because he wanted to ''get even'' with Davis
following a confrontation he said the two of them had had. Monty Holmes
testified against Troy Davis in a pre-trial hearing, but did not testify
at the trial because, according to a 2001 affidavit, he did not want to
repeat this false testimony. Jeffrey Sapp testified that Troy Davis had
told him that he had shot the officer. Recanting his testimony in a 2003
affidavit, he stated that under ''a lot of pressure'' from police, he had
testified against Troy Davis.

At the trial, eyewitness Dorothy Ferrell identified Troy Davis as the
person who had shot Officer MacPhail. In a 2000 affidavit, she stated that
she had not seen who the gunman was, but testified against Davis out of
fear that if she did not, because she was on parole at the time, she would
be sent back to jail. In a 2002 affidavit, Darrell Collins, 16 years old
at the time of the crime, said that the day after the shooting, 15 or 20
police officers came to his house, and ''a lot of them had their guns
drawn''. They took him in for questioning, and ''after a couple of hours
of the detectives yelling at me and threatening me, I finally broke down
and told them what they wanted to hear. They would tell me things that
they said had happened and I would repeat whatever they said - testified
against Troy at his trial - because I was still scared that the police
would throw me in jail for being an accessory to murder if I told the
truth about what happened'' Larry Young, the homeless man who was accosted
on the night of the murder, implicated Troy Davis as the man who had
assaulted him. His affidavit, signed in 2002, offers further evidence of a
coercive police investigation into the murder of their fellow officer:
''After I was assaulted that night some police officers grabbed me and
threw me down on the hood of the police car and handcuffed me. They
treated me like a criminal; like I was the one who killed the officer
They made it clear that we weren't leaving until I told them what they
wanted to hear. They suggested answers and I would give them what they
wanted. They put typed papers in my face and told me to sign them. I did
sign them without reading them.'' In his 2002 affidavit he said that he
''couldn't honestly remember what anyone looked like or what different
people were wearing.''

Antoine Williams, a Burger King employee, had just driven into the
restaurant's car park at the time the shooting occurred. At the trial, he
identified Troy Davis as the person who had shot Officer MacPhail. In 2002
he stated that this was false, and that he had signed a statement for the
police that he could not and did not read: ''Even today, I know that I
could not honestly identify with any certainty who shot the officer that
night. I couldn't then either. After the officers talked to me, they gave
me a statement and told me to sign it. I signed it. I did not read it
because I cannot read. At Troy Davis's trial, I identified him as the
person who shot the officer. Even when I said that, I was totally unsure
whether he was the person who shot the officer. I felt pressured to point
at him because he was the one who was sitting in the courtroom. I have no
idea what the person who shot the officer looks like.''

Due to the procedural obstacles facing a death row inmate seeking a
hearing on post-conviction evidence, Troy Davis has had no such hearing on
the current state of the witness testimony. At oral arguments in front of
a three-judge panel of the federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in
September 2005, one of the judges expressed concern that Troy Davis had
not been granted a federal hearing to present the post- conviction
evidence. She asked, ''If these people say, 'I was coerced by the police,'
how could [the lower federal judge] reject that without a hearing?'' She
reportedly suggested that without the testimony of the various trial
witnesses who had now recanted, the state appeared to have no case.
However, in September 2006, the 11th Circuit Court upheld the federal
judge's ruling, and on 25 June 2007 the US Supreme court refused to
intervene. For a full report on this case, see USA: 'Where is the justice
for me?' The case of Troy Davis, facing execution in Georgia, February
2007, http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engamr510232007.

FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as
possible, your own words:

- welcoming the Board's decision to stay the execution of Troy Anthony
Davis to consider the evidence of his claim of innocence;

- noting the widespread concern that this case has generated inside the
USA, reflecting the greater recognition and concern today around the
country about the potential for irrevocable error in capital cases;

- reiterating that many of the witnesses who testimony was used against
Troy Davis at his trial have since recanted their trial testimony, and
that there is new evidence against an alternative suspect in the case;

- noting that the power of clemency in capital cases exists as a failsafe
against irreversible error;

- calling on the Board to take the extra step and to commute the death
sentence of Troy Davis.


State Board of Pardons and Paroles
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE
Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909, USA
Fax: 1 404 651 8502
Email: Clemency_Information@pap.state.ga.us.

Salutation: Dear Board members


Amnesty International is a worldwide grassroots movement that promotes and
defends human rights.

This Urgent Action may be reposted if kept intact, including contact
information and stop action date (if applicable). Thank you for your help
with this appeal.

Urgent Action Network
Amnesty International USA
600 Pennsylvania Ave SE 5th fl
Washington DC 20003
Email: uan@aiusa.org
Phone: 202.544.0200
Fax: 202.675.8566



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