The CaseofTroy Davis
WHO IS TROY DAVIS?
Troy Davis was sentenced to death in Georgia or the1989 killing o Mark Allen MacPhail at a Burger Kingparking lot in Savannah, Georgia. Troy is now 40 yearsold and has spent the last 17 years on death row proess-ing his innocence.
Troy was sentenced to death in 1991 despite the actthat no physical evidence linked him to the crime, andno murder weapon was ever ound. The basis o his conviction was the testimony o ninewitnesses. But seven o these nine witnesses have nowcome orward in sworn afdavits to recant their state-ments. Many o those who originally testifed against Troy say they were pressured or coerced by police. Oneo the two witnesses who has not recanted was originallythe main suspect in the case, and has been named byothers as the person who killed MacPhail.
WHY DID THE POLICE GO AFTER TROY?
There was renzy among police to fnd the person whohad killed one o their own—25 ofcers were assignedto the case. The media sensationalized the case o a 27- year-old white ather shot in the line o duty, apparentlyby an Arican American man. One reporter said, “Thereis a desire among the police to have the suspect lockedaway beore MacPhail is buried.”Initially a suspect himsel, Sylvester Coles went to thepolice to say that Troy Davis was the killer, ocusing at-tention on Troy. Curiously, Coles admits he was carryinga .38 caliber gun hal an hour beore Ofcer MacPhailwas shot—the same caliber that was used in the killing. Troy admits that he was at the scene beore MacPhailwas shot, but that he had stepped in to help a homelessman who was being pistol-whipped by Coles.
Among the seven witnesses who have recanted theirtestimony in sworn afdavits, several say they elt pres-sure rom the police to identiy Troy as the shooter.Knowing they could ace perjury charges or their state-ments, they nevertheless have come orward to tell theirstory—but the courts will not allow this new evidence tobe heard by a jury.Here are what two o the witnesses had to say:Jerey Sapp: “The police came and talked to me and puta lot o pressure on me…They wanted me to tell themthat Troy conessed to me about killing that ofcer. Thething is, Troy never told me anything about it. I got tiredo them harassing me…I told them that Troy did it, butit wasn’t true.”Darrell Collins: “The police were telling me that I wasan accessory to murder, and that I would…go to jail ora long time, and I would be lucky i I ever got out, espe-cially because a police ofcer got killed…I was only 16and was so scared o going to jail.