Politics In America- Troy Davis execution causes controversy
Bethany Dixon, Assistant Editor-News & Features
September 29, 2011
Filed under News & Features
The execution of Troy Davis on Sept. 21, placed the debate about the death penalty back in the news. Davis was accused of killing Mark MacPhail, a police officer in the state of Georgia in 1989. MacPhail was an off-duty officer, who was working as a security guard at the time of the incident. MacPhail had intervened in an assault that Davis was involved in. The matter escalated and MacPhail was shot. The weapon was never found but multiple bullets that were found near the scene were linked to another shooting that Davis had been involved in.
Several witnesses stated that they saw Davis shoot MacPhail. In the twenty years between the trial and the execution, all but two of those witnesses have stated that they were coerced into signing statements against Daivs. Many of these witnesses have later said that they believe the actual killer was the original prosecution witnesses, Sylvester “Redd” Coles.
In 2010, there was an evidentiary hearing in which affidavits from 7 of the 9 original witnesses stated that their original testimony was not accurate. The court upheld the decision in August of 2010 and the execution date was set.
Davis maintained his innocence, saying before he died, “I am innocent. This incident that happened that night is not my fault.”
Throughout the week many officials and public figures stepped up to voice their opinions on the matter. Pope Benedict XVI, former president, Jimmy Carter, William Sessions, a former director of the FBI and large numbers of activists all openly stated that they believed that there was not enough evidence to execute Troy Davis. The night of Davis’ execution the White House Press Secretary, announced that President Obama would not intervene in the matter.
Davis had gained international support. T-shirts with the phrase “I am Troy Davis” were being sold on the online worldwide. Human rights group Amnesty International worked on his behalf and started online petitions. On the day of Davis’ execution, riot police were placed outside to keep the crowd under control.
Critics of the death penalty have stated that there was too many inconsistencies and doubt to support the death penalty in this case.
“If one of our fellow citizens can be executed with so much doubt surrounding his guilt, then the death penalty system in our country is unjust and outdated,” said former President Jimmy Carter.
A major criticism of capital punishment is the fact that there is no way to undo it once it has been done. Multiple appeals were made, including a last minute appeal to the Supreme Court – which was denied. Davis was put to death by lethal injection and declared dead at 11:08 p.m.