& Research of Global News Events
Reps. John Lewis and Hank
Johnson Urge Clemency For Inmate Troy Anthony Davis
ATLANTA, Sept. 12,
2011, 5:30 p.m.
Reps. John Lewis
(GA-05) and Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) sent a letter today signed by
more than 50 other members of Congress to the Georgia State Board of
Pardons & Paroles, urging a stay of execution for death-row inmate
Troy Anthony Davis and clemency in the form of a life sentence.
Since the initial trial in
1991, seven of the nine state witnesses against Davis have recanted
their testimony and another man has been implicated as the shooter.
During an evidentiary hearing in 2010, an eyewitness testified that
he saw the alleged suspect shoot off-duty police officer, Mark
McPhail. At least ten individuals have implicated this new suspect
in the murder, casting significant doubt on the Davis conviction.
There is no physical evidence tying Davis to the murder.
Both Lewis and Johnson
along with thousands of concerned citizens--over 60,000 who have
signed a recent petition--as well as many public figures, including
Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop of Atlanta Wilton Gregory, William
Sessions, former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,
President Jimmy Carter, activist Harry Belafonte, the European
Parliament, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others agree there is too
much reasonable doubt in the case to proceed with execution. Rep.
Johnson, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, has introduced
the Effective Death Penalty Appeals Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Lewis,
which would ensure that death row inmates have the opportunity to
present newly discovered evidence of innocence.
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This is one of those exceptional instances where adhering to the letter
of the law could lead the state of Georgia to commit a grave injustice,
said Rep. John Lewis. That is why it is important for people of
goodwill to stand together and speak out in this case. The parole board
has the power to intervene on the peoples behalf to right a deplorable
wrong, especially when there is so much room for doubt about this
conviction. I believe the board seeks to do what is just and look
forward prayerfully to the upcoming clemency hearing with the faith that
justice will prevail.
As a criminal defense attorney, judge and member of the House
Judiciary Committee, said Rep. Hank Johnson, it disturbs me to my core that an
unnecessary and unjust killing may take place. If we execute a man despite new
evidence that casts doubt on his guilt, it shakes the publics faith in the
integrity of justice in Georgia.
Lewis and Johnson have been fighting to stop Davis execution
since 2007. So convinced of the possibility of an unjust execution in this case,
Rep. Lewis made a rare appearance before the Georgia Board of Pardons and
Paroles in 2007 to speak on Daviss behalf. Also both members have visited
Davis at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Savannah to speak
to him personally about the case.
September 21 has been set as the execution date. Prayer vigils in Atlanta have
been planned for September 19th, the date of Daviss clemency
hearing, as well as a march from Woodruff Park to Ebenezer Baptist Church during
the same week. The clemency hearing is the final appeal remaining in the case.
This is Daviss fourth death warrant, the second since 2007. In April of this
year, Davis lost his mother. At the funeral, his sister, Martina Correia, a
stalwart advocate for Davis, said she died of a broken heart, unable to face
another execution date. Correia, a miraculous survivor of breast cancer, has
recently suffered a health setback as well, but she is determined to appear at
the clemency hearing.
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