He Needs to Die

I think these things just take too long. He needs to be gotten rid of. Yeah, yeah, I know they are alleging new evidence, but it is the same evidence that they had several years ago that got him no where, coupled with a few people who have now, almost 17 years later, had a change of heart.

For Troy Davis, the up to 90-day stay of execution he was granted on the eve of what would have been his last day alive offered more time for him to prove his innocence.

But for the widow of the police officer Davis was convicted of killing, the stay continued the roller-coaster of emotions she’s been going through for nearly 18 years.

The state Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday granted the stay to Davis, who had faced a Tuesday execution date. The board took less than an hour to make its decision, following nearly nine hours of closed-door testimony from Davis’ defenders and those who wanted to see him given a lethal injection as scheduled.

Time for a killin’.


  1. griftdrift says:

    I would just add that that if our notoriously unforgiving pardons and parole board takes less than an hour to grant a stay, it might give one pause.

  2. dorian says:

    How is that? Unified appeal. State habeas. Federal habeas. Do you even know what the evidence against him was? Or is this just one of those philosophical ‘all death penalty is bad’ positions?

  3. megan says:

    It’s not just that a few witnesses had a change of heart – the majority of witnesses are all alleging police investigators pressured them to make statements which they now claim are false. Forgive me if I think that’s worth hearing out before ending a man’s life. It’s not like he’ll be set free to run among the tulips – he’ll still be locked up in a teeny tiny cell while the judicial system does it’s job.

  4. Sarawara says:

    I actually looked yesterday at the federal court docket for the habeas petition. The court never held an evidentiary hearing and denied habeas without even hearing the testimony of any of the recanting witnesses or seeing a reply brief from the petitioner.

    Do some actual research into the case and I think you will at least consider the possibility that Davis should at least have a hearing of the new evidence. There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime, no murder weapon, and he was convicted on the basis of the testimony of 9 witnesses. 7 of those 9 have recanted, and one of the remaining 2 (who cannot be found) may have been the actual murderer according to a confession he gave to someone else.

    I know we presume that these guys get all the appeals and so someone has clearly looked at this stuff before, but I was very surprised when I looked at the habeas case docket to see the judge denying every request for appointment of counsel, for payment for experts, for an evidentiary hearing, and for discovery before finally denying the habeas petition outright on the basis of the papers.

    And just to add to what Griftdrift said, former FBI director William Sessions–who is a strong supporter of the death penalty–wrote an op-ed in the AJC recently calling for some court to actually hear this new evidence to make sure we weren’t about to execute an innocent man. There are plenty of people on both sides of the death penalty debate who think this deserves a closer look before we rush to do that killin’.

  5. Erick says:

    He needs to die. Of course, I take the position that I’d rather one innocent man die than a bunch of murderers go free. I still think he’s guilty.

  6. drjay says:

    wow i hope you are never that innocent man…i actually take the opposite position–i’d rather a few folks get away w/ murder than an innocent be condemned but then i also tend to be ambivalent about the death penalty in general–and from the coverage i’ve seen there is at least enough evidence out there to have a judge actually sit back and take another look at this

  7. jm says:

    OK….you *think* he’s guilty, and therefore should die? Look, no one is asking to release him…he may in fact be guilty. But to put a man to death requires much more than just “reasonable doubt”. Otherwise the state is guilty of murder.

  8. HeartofGa says:

    Gee, Erick, are you going to throw down a picnic blanket and call the family together to watch the “killin’?” It’s one thing to favor the death penalty but quite another to revel in it.

  9. jkga says:

    Erick, if you’re going to satirize ignorant bloodlustful conservative views on this blog, you’ve got to be a lot more over-the-top for it to work.

    Anywhere else, a statement like “I take the position that I

  10. Loren says:

    I support the death penalty, and think it’s very well-deserved and appropriate in certain cases (e.g., Brian Nichols), but I also think that wise and responsible death penalty advocacy depends on being very cautious and hesitant to impose the death penalty in cases like this one.

    So long as the death penalty is limited to severe homicides for which there is overwhelming evidence of guilt, I don’t believe the American public will ever want to eliminate it. We want the option of executing guys like McVeigh or Nichols or, hypothetically, Osama.

    But for every person on death row whose factual guilt can be called into even the slightest bit of doubt, the public’s acceptance of the death penalty wanes. Should an executed person ever be factually exonerated after the fact, that may well spell the end of the death penalty in this country.

    Thus, the best way, the ONLY way, to preserve the death penalty is to be discriminating in its use. To limit it to the worst of the worst, those for whom the evidence of guilt is incontravertible. If that means it spares some killers the needle, then so be it. After all, it’s not like the options for them are just execution and freedom. They’ll still rot in jail. But one misstep in using the death penalty, one innocent man executed, and the option will be off the table for any killer, no matter how despicable.

  11. Nicki says:

    I’m pro-death penalty, but I don’t believe it can be justified unless it is clear beyond a reasonable doubt, and even to a near certainty (since we are, after all, talking about taking someone’s life) that the person in question is guilty.

    In this particular case, the majority of the witnesses have recanted. That should be sufficient to ensure that this case is revisited, and the sentence set aside unless it is truly warranted.

  12. dorian says:

    Didn’t the trial happen about 15 years ago? How is this a rush to killin? I mean, jeez, what were you doing 15 years ago today? If you can’t remember is that recanting? How many courts have to be wrong? Arm chair quarterbacking the legal system is a popular sport, but how many court appearances before it’s enough?

  13. griftdrift says:

    Not remembering is not the same thing as recanting. And the witnesses are recanting.

    But you ask a good question dorian. How long should it take in a situation where there is no do over?

  14. In the loop says:

    “Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” – William Blackstone

  15. Sarawara says:

    People love to trot out the prior appeals, how many courts have to hear this case, etc. But no court has heard the testimony of the recanting witnesses who were the only evidence of Davis’ guilt that the jury heard at trial. The state habeas proceedings determined Davis’ claims had been procedurally defaulted, which probably resulted from ineffective assistance of counsel since Davis was relying on state-funded attorneys who were severely overburdened. The federal court never heard the testimony of any witnesses before also deciding to deny the habeas petition.

    It would be nice if people could be bothered to actually read the facts of this case before pronouncing desire to see this man die. For example, most do not know that whoever shot the police officer on the night in question also beat and shot 2 other men. Both of those men survived, and both have said Davis was not their shooter. There is a lot about this case that should bother both death penalty advocates and opponents. It does not benefit the cause of death penalty advocates to have blatantly unjust executions of people who are probably innocent. As someone else said above, this is exactly the sort of thing that will turn the public tide against capital punishment for good if it keeps happening. The Innocence Project has gotten over 100 death row inmates out of jail by demonstrating their actual innocence. How many mistakes do you think were made before the advent of DNA testing? How many are acceptable to you as part of the cost of executing murderers?

  16. Erick says:

    Grift, I think we should get rid of P&P and put all this and Genarlow in the hands of the Governor.

    Oh, and Spacey, right on the money as usual.

  17. dorian says:

    I don’t see the distinction between a recantation and someone saying they dont remember after 15 years. It isn’t realistic to expect a witness to remember after 15 years, but wow 7 of them! That is extremely remarkable. And apparently, they remember it better now than right after it happened. Why we have a genuine miracle on our hands here.

    And you’re right Sar, the federal court didn’t hear from the witnesses. They have these things called transcripts. It is a record of what was said in court. Pretty common thing really. Of course, it assumes 1) people tell the truth in their sworn testimony, and 2) people remember things better at the time or a short time after something happens than more than a decade later.

  18. Erick says:

    Likewise, 15 – 17 years later you start dwelling on whether or not the guy needs killing and you soften and second guess yourself.

  19. Sarawara says:

    So in your mind, dorian, a witness can never come back and say that they were threatened or pressured by the DA or the police to ID someone who was not the shooter? Because hey, the habeas court has the trial transcripts, so why should we ever concern ourselves with whether that trial testimony was truthful or coerced?

    I bet if you were pressured to lie in open court under threats from cops and the DA, and you were wracked with guilt over the possibility that your perjury might be sending someone to their death unfairly, you’d have a mighty good memory about it 15 years later. I sure would.

    The witnesses don’t say their memories improved or changed. They say they forced to give inaccurate testimony and to sign statements identifying the shooter that were untrue. Maybe you think our legal system doesn’t ever need to correct miscarriages of justice and we can just rely on what was said in court and never ask ourselves if it was accurate later on…and if so, you’re entitled to your opinions obviously. Thankfully the P&P board disagreed with you and wants to examine the evidence. He might still die, but at least this way those who care about such things will say that he got a fair examination of the new evidence and testimony.

  20. dorian says:

    You are 100% correct Sar. In my mind that doesn’t happen. Primarily, it is because neither the police nor prosecutors are that bright. Of course, miscarriages of justice need to be corrected, but hanging your hat on the cause of convicted murders is like hanging it on convicted child molesters. . .ok. . .bad example. Maybe we should just bond him and Mr. Wilson out into your custody and the three of you can sit around the dinner table lamenting the state of criminal justice in the state.

  21. joe says:

    Can somebody explain this in terms a layman can understand?

    I appears that he can not appeal, because the appeals court doesn’t want to listen to him.

    So the Pardons and Parole Board issues a stay so they can either pardon or parole him?

    Does P&P have the power to order a new trial?

    There is not much here that makes sense.

  22. megan says:

    In your mind police and prosecutors never, ever pressure or influence testimony? Ever? In any way? Dumb, brilliant, intentional, unintentional, well intended, etc.? Golly, I want to live in Dorian’s world.

  23. Sarawara says:

    If you believe that police and prosecutorial misconduct simply never happen in murder cases, I’d love to know the color of the sky in your world.

    At least Erick admits he just doesn’t care if mistakes are made rather than pretending they never occur.

  24. dorian says:

    I wish you did too. I happen to think that police and prosecutors are hardworking, honest people doing a thankless job in which they are incessently scutinized by a largely unappreciative public.

    I do not think that you have a clear idea of the number of people that would have to be involved in this large scale conspiracy of yours, but I don’t think that you actually care either. Whatever makes the cops look bad, right? At least, until you need one.

  25. megan says:

    Dorian – you are the one who insulted police and prosecutors by saying you don’t believe they are that bright. I merely believe they are human and thus imperfect. I also believe that there are malicious people out there, in every profession, who will act dishonestly to get what they want. Am I saying that’s what happened in this specific instance? No. Am I leaving open the possibility that there was some form of misconduct, perhaps even with the best of intentions behind it, that needs to be aired out in another court hearing? Yes. That’s how our judicial system is supposed to work. You even admitted that you believe in the possibility of the miscarriage of justice.

  26. dorian says:

    Megan, it isn’t an insult to the police to say that they couldn’t pull off this grand a comspiracy. To pull this off there would have been collusion in the sheriff’s department at multiple levels: the street cops, investigators, and likely at least one Sgt. or higher. And it would have to involve the case agent with the gbi. And it would have to involve at least one ADA, if not the district attorney. Then it would have to involve the coercion of testimony from nine witnesses who, coincidentally, keep it quiet for nearly two decades. I am not that bright either. Nor are you. Nor is anyone that I know of.

    And I was actually speaking to two different posts. I did not mean to infer that it was your opinion of the police, but it seems clear that it is Sarawara’s opinion. Personally, I think it is because (s)he watches too much Cold Case and CSI.

  27. jm says:

    Joe: according to the pardons and parole web site, they can:

    “The Parole Board has the sole constitutional authority to commute, or reduce, a death sentence to life without parole. Only after an inmate appears to have exhausted all appeals and other judicial avenues of relief will the Parole Board consider granting a commutation to a death-sentenced inmate. At that time, the condemned inmate

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