Religious Leader Sign-on Letter on Behalf of Troy Anthony Davis

Troy Anthony Davis is a man on Georgia’s death row who is at risk of execution.  He has been scheduled to be executed three times and each time his execution has been stayed amid doubts concerning the impact of numerous witness recantations and new evidence against another suspect. Following an evidentiary hearing in federal court in June 2010, a federal judge ruled that Davis had not clearly established his innocence. Yet significant doubts about his guilt have been raised and remain unresolved. People of Faith Against the Death Penalty is partnering with Amnesty International USA in circulating this letter for religious leaders to endorse. If you are a religious leader or minister of any kind please consider endorsing the letter below urging the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles to prevent the execution of Troy Davis.

Please share this letter with other clergy and religious leader contacts of yours, so that we can build a strong list!

For facts about this case, and more actions to take, please visitwww.justicefortroy.org

Please complete your endorsement right now. Time is of the essence.

Thank you for your support!

 

Dear Chairman Donald and Members of the Board:

We the undersigned represent clergy and leaders from various religious traditions. As leaders in our respective faith communities, we all find within our teachings a divine directive to support justice in the world and to uphold the sacredness of life. As such, we are united in our support of clemency for Mr. Troy Anthony Davis.

As people of faith, we wish to make a special appeal to you about this compelling case which we believe is worthy of your intervention. We are troubled by the crime that is at the heart of this case. In 1989, Savannah and the MacPhail family suffered a terrible loss when Police Officer Mark Alan MacPhail was shot to death while rushing to the aid of a beaten homeless man. The actual perpetrator must be held accountable so that justice can be served. We hold the MacPhail family and the Savannah community in our prayers as they have endured a difficult process.

We are also troubled that a man was sent to death row, largely on the basis of witness testimony, most of which has been contradicted since the trial. Troy Davis was given an unprecedented opportunity to present his claim of innocence at a federal district court hearing in June 2010. While the federal judge felt that Davis did not meet the “extraordinarily high” standard to “clearly establish innocence,” Judge William T. Moore, Jr. acknowledged that the case against Davis “may not be ironclad.” Ultimately, he did not trust the credibility of the witnesses; however, these are the very witnesses whose testimony was used to secure Davis’ conviction. We know that four witnesses testified at this hearing that they had not told the truth in implicating Davis at trial and another eyewitness testified that he saw a relative of his commit the murder in question. These are very significant developments that cast serious doubt on Davis’ guilt.

We commend the Board for its strong moral position in the Order Suspending the Execution of Sentence of Death issued on July 16, 2007. That statement read, “The members of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles will not allow an execution to proceed in this State unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused.” Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio took a similar stand by granting clemency to Kevin Keith in September 2010. Gov. Strickland was not sure of Keith’s innocence claim, but was not comfortable allowing an execution to be carried out with serious and persistent questions about his guilt. Keith is now serving a life sentence and Ohio is no longer at risk of killing what may be an innocent man.

Your role as the final failsafe and check on the judicial system is extremely critical to preventing the state of Georgia from the possibility of making an irreversible and horrific error. Given these uncertainties, allowing the execution of Troy Davis would be a gamble that we believe is both unnecessary and unconscionable. We hold you each in our prayers as you fulfill your duty to review this case once again, and we urge you to grant clemency to Mr. Davis.

Yours Truly,

 

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1576/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=5928

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One response to “Religious Leader Sign-on Letter on Behalf of Troy Anthony Davis

  1. I am not a member of the clergy, but I do support Mr. Davis’ bid for freedom. I’ve written a similar letter in anticipation of tomorrow’s meeting of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole for anyone to use, below (you will have to add your return adress and the date at the top and your signature at the bottom; the fax number for the Board is beneath the inside address and their email address is clemency_information@pap.state.georgia.us):

    James E. Donald, Chairman
    Albert Murray, Vice Chairman
    Ms. L. Gale Buckner
    Mr. Robert E. Keller
    Mr. Terry Barnard
    State of Georgia Board of
      Pardons and Paroles
    2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE 
    Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower 
    Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909

    By Fax: (404) 651-8502

    Re:  Troy Anthony Davis Clemency Petition

    Dear Chairman Donald and Members of the Board:

    I am writing in anticipation of your Board meeting Tuesday, March 1st, in support of the community of faith who have petitioned you for clemency on behalf Mr. Troy Anthony Davis. Like this growing group of faithful, I, too,  find within my understanding of this most important aspect of the human experience – my relationship with G_d – a divine directive to support justice in the world and to uphold the sacredness of life, and I respectfully request that you again thoughtfully consider Mr. Davis’ case and his eligibility for clemency.

    I am as troubled by the unsolved status of the crime for which Mr. Davis has apparently wrongly been convicted as are his supporters and feel very strongly that the community of Savannah and the MacPhail deserve justice for the murder of Police Officer Mark Alan MacPhail, who was shot to death while rushing to the aid of a beaten homeless man, as does Mr. Davis.  The actual perpetrator must be held accountable so that justice can be served.  I continue to pray for Officer MacPhail’s family and the Savannah community that they will not have to wait much longer for true justice in this heart-breaking case.

    I urge you, as you consider our plea for clemency for Mr. Davis, to consider that while he was given an unprecedented opportunity to present his claim of innocence at a federal district court hearing in June 2010,  the “extraordinarily high” standard to “clearly establish innocence” in cases such as Mr. Davis’ made it nearly impossible for federal judge William T. Moore, Jr., to grant relief to Mr. Davis even though he acknowledged that the case against Mr. Davis “may not be ironclad.”  We know that four witnesses testified at this hearing that they had not told the truth at Mr. Davis’ trial, and another eyewitness testified that he saw a relative of his commit the murder for which Mr. Davis was subsequently convicted.  These are very significant developments that cast serious doubt on Davis’ guilt – doubt which not only mitigates his culpability for this crime but which also prohibits his execution, as Judge Moore courageously opined was not permissible under the law in a case laden with doubts as Mr. Davis’.  We are dismayed Judge Moore did not order a new trial for Mr. Davis, instead preferring to allow the petitioner to seek such relief from the United States Supreme Court. 

    Ultimately, we are left with the fact that the case against Mr. Davis rests on the testimony of recanted witnesses whom Judge Moore no longer trusted – despite the fact those witnesses’ testimony was sufficient to convict Mr. Davis in the first place – in addition to new eye-witness testimony identifying another man as Officer MacPhail’s murderer.  I believe the Board that acted with such strong moral conviction once by signing an Order Suspending the Execution of Sentence of Death that it issued on July 16, 2007, in which it said, “The members of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles will not allow an execution to proceed in this State unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused,” has a duty to continue its unwavering commitment to justice for Mr. Davis, the MacPhail family, and the Savannah community by granting Mr. Davis clemency so that the County Prosecutor may pursue charges against Officer MacPhail’s self-confessed and eye-witnessed murderer, Sylvester ‘Redd’ Coles. Under these circumstances, there can be no doubt that Mr. Davis’ continued imprisonment under the threat of  paying the ultimate price for a crime for which he has not been found sufficiently guilty is both unjust and unconscionable. 

    I join with the other petitioners whose pleas on Mr. Davis’ behalf you have heard in holding you each in my prayers as you fulfill your duty to review this case once again, and in requesting that you find the evidence therein sufficient to grant clemency to Mr. Davis.

    Very sincerely yours,

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