Troy Davis

The Supreme Court has denied a petition to hear the case of Troy Davis, meaning that he will likely be dead vry shortly. This is, to put it bluntly, an absolute sham that every American of good conscience should be repulsed by. Some background:

The 1991 death sentence against Davis came under scrutiny after seven of nine witnesses who helped convict him recanted their testimony or changed their statements. Several told of being pressured by police to tell them what they wanted to hear. In addition, three other people have said another man who identified Davis as the killer had confessed to being the actual triggerman.

There was no physical evidence in the case, no murder weapon either, and the entire case rested on eyewitness testimony. In the interim, these witnesses have recanted, and several have alleged police misconduct (at least one has said the police told him he’d go to jail if he didn’t finger Davis, another had a written statement entered into evidence, even though he was illiterate). In short, the conviction was a sham to begin with, brought on largely by a police force out for vengeance (we could go into a long argument about the inherent conflict of interest in expecting police to investigate crimes involving members of their own force, but I don’t want to get totally flamed right now), and the refusal to allow a new trial in the wake of this should qualify as murder. And I sincerely mean that. If Troy Davis is, in fact, executed, then a good many people involved in the criminal justice system should be prosecuted for allowing it to happen.

Also, I want to highlight this paragraph that comes later in the WaPo piece:

However, relatives and supporters of the victim in the case, Mark Allen MacPhail, insist that police got the right man when they charged Davis with murdering the off-duty Savannah police officer in the early hours of Aug. 19, 1989, when MacPhail tried to stop Davis and two friends from brutally beating a homeless man in a fast-food restaurant parking lot.

Not to be cruel, but this is stupid. If MacPhail was on duty when he was killed, how many “relatives and supporters” would have actually been at the scene to witness the event? I’m banking it’s a very, very low, number of them. Or, put another way, there’s absolutely no way they could know that Troy Davis was the murderer. None. Zilch. Nada. And this basically underscores the problem with both the death penalty itself and the politics surrounding it. “Victims Rights” is basically code word for family vengeance, and all too often these concerned relatives come to the point where they’re looking more for a scapegoat than “justice,” and that’s basically what you’re seeing here. Being as nice as I can be, the family and “supporters” of officer MacPhail can only be placated if someone “pays,” if things “even out” as it were. And it’s to the point where that cosmic balance is more important than fact. Any rational person looking at the basic facts of this case would come away at least seriously doubting that Troy Davis is guilty. But we’re not talking about rational people, but rather people, basically, out for blood; anyone’s blood. Troy Davis will do just fine, thank you very much.

And that’s the sort of “interest” our legal system caters to in too many places. And an innocent man is going to die to sate a large portion of society’s inate need for vengeance, paid for in blood.

May God have mercy on our souls.