Troy Davis: justice served?


On September 21, 2011 Troy Davis was put to death for the 1989 murder of police officer Mark MacPhail.

The case sparked a national media-frenzy as celebrities and activists such as Al Sharpton, Jimmy Carter, and the NAACP cast doubts over Davis’ guilt and called for a new trial after some of the witnesses in Davis’ original trial recanted their testimony.

It is always a sad affair when we have to resort to the use of the death penalty in our country, and in this case especially, there existed clear reasonable doubts as to whether or not Troy Davis killed Mark MacPhail.

The Supreme Court would have been wise to grant another stay of execution for appropriate review of new evidence and factors that may have exonerated Davis, but at the same time, there is much about this story that is not being reported.

Before you post your “I Am Troy Davis” tweet and go about declaring his innocence to all of your Facebook friends, let’s go a little deeper into the facts of this case.

First of all, we must dismiss the notion that Troy Davis never had an opportunity to be heard. Davis had his execution stayed four times over the course of his 22 years on death row.

More than a dozen courts have looked into Davis’ case, including a hearing ordered by the Supreme Court last year.

At every turn, judges refused to overturn Davis’ death sentence. In fact, in the Supreme Court’s decision not to stay Troy Davis’ execution last week, there were no expressions of dissent or objections from any of the nine justices.

Additionally, Troy Davis is an African American man, and throughout this case, there have been claims that racism tainted the legal process, but it is appropriate to point out that the jury that tried Davis was comprised of seven African-Americans and five whites.

The media has also reported heavily on the fact that seven of the nine witnesses in Davis’ trial have since recanted their testimony, when in fact the number of witnesses that Davis’ defense team called to testify was 34.

Of those that recanted their testimony, three recantations were from friends of Davis, while others changed minor details to their testimony, with their revised statements still implicating Davis.

What is most troubling about the Troy Davis case, however, is the glaring hypocrisy of some of his advocates.

In the hours that followed his death, they marched in the streets, they spoke out against his execution to the media, and they took to the blogosphere and social-networking sites to express their opinions, as they had every right to do, and many did quite eloquently.

But when one conservative journalist expressed her seeming approval of the Supreme Court’s decision to deny another stay of execution, the supposed righteous indignation of many Davis supporters turned to pure, unadulterated hate.

Blogger and political pundit Michelle Malkin took to Twitter to post her thoughts, implying that she had no real qualms with the Supreme Court’s decision. Her remarks ignited such a firestorm that the response she received from other users on Twitter became a news story in-and-of itself.  Actor Alec Baldwin called her a “world class, crypto fascist hater.” Others responded to Malkin, an Asian American, with Tweets reading, “This stir-fry noodle believes she matters”.  Explicit death threats were also directed at Malkin: “You can die tonight too u know,” wrote one Twitter user.

I don’t celebrate Troy Davis’ execution and I’ll reiterate my own doubts of his guilt, but I don’t believe this case is as black-and-white as many in the media would have us to believe. I still believe in the justice system and I’m disappointed to see many Davis supporters cheapen their cause with their vile words towards those with whom they disagree.  I want to know what you think too. If you feel differently or even if you agree, write in and tell me or—dare I say it?—tweet me.