Nearly one hundred years ago, some of the leading citizens of my State of Georgia lynched an innocent man, Leo Max Frank, for a murder he never committed, and for which he was posthumously pardoned by a later Georgia governor. Now, by denying clemency to a probably-innocent man, Troy Davis, the Georgia Board of Paroles and Pardons has set the stage for Mr. Davis' "legal" lynching by lethal injection in less than two days. It seems that Georgia does not learn much from experience, and it is certain that the State will come to regret this upcoming "legal" lynching in due course.
Undoubtedly, the demands of the family of police officer Mark MacPhail, slain in 1989, played a key role in the decision to execute Troy Davis. All of us have utter sympathy for that tragic loss of Officer MacPhail, but to compound that totally-unjustified murder with the State-sanctioned killing of Troy Davis will do little to bring the sense of closure the MacPhail family understandably craves. It is truly said that "two wrongs do not make a right" -- and given the recanting of nearly all of the witnesses against Davis, there is more than sufficient evidence to halt his execution.
In America, the standard of innocence is "reasonable doubt," which is undoubtedly present in the Troy Davis case. At least one original juror has already stated that had she known the facts which came out after his trial, she would have found him innocent. As for the so-called "physical evidence" of shell casings, there are many issues as to how they appeared at the scene of the crime. Indeed, one of the original witnesses against Troy Davis has incriminated another man as guilty of the killing. But none of that seems to matter to the Georgia Board of Paroles and Pardons.
What is clear is that the various police authorities involved in investigating the MacPhail killing at the time pressured possible witnesses unmercifully to get them to incriminate Troy Davis. This is not an uncommon procedure when there is a "cop killing" and perhaps it is even understandable, if not acceptable. The authorities have to get somebody for the crime. This is far from the first time when they may well have gotten the wrong person, but in less than two days, we are likely to never know if that is the case. Undoubtedly, the desire of the authorities in Georgia to set all of this behind them also contributed to the denial of clemency to Troy Davis. That fact makes the decision not only wrong, but truly shameful as well!