At 10:51 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011, Troy Anthony Davis was strapped to a gurney and injected with sodium thiopental, putting him into a deep sleep. Then Davis was given pancuronium bromide, a muscle relaxant that stops breathing by paralyzing the diaphragm. Finally, potassium chloride was given at a lethal dose in order to interrupt the electrical signaling essential to heart functions, which induced cardiac arrest. At 11:08 p.m., Davis was pronounced dead.
This execution never should have taken place. There were too many doubts, unanswered questions and witnesses who retracted their testimony. I, along with 1 million other people who signed a petition in Davis’ favor, believe that he is what he claimed — innocent.
If you follow the legal system in this country, you know that many people have been found guilty of crimes that they did not commit. In the past four years, 17 men on death row were found innocent before their executions, according to the American Bar Association. Every one of those men were convicted because of corruption (the prosecutor needed a conviction at all cost), lack of investigation (police officers have their man in jail and so they stop looking for suspects), inadequate representation (most men on death row get inexperienced attorneys) and coerced witnesses (they’re threatened with jail time unless they testify).
There were nine questionable eyewitnesses at the Troy Davis trial, seven of whom recanted their testimony. There was evidence of cases of perjury, yet the appeals courts did not want to upset our method of justice. These seven witnesses said their testimony was coerced, forced or tainted by the interrogating police officers. It’s important to note that one of those witnesses actually might be the real murderer. But what the heck — the police had their man in jail. It was time for a celebration drink, not more investigation.
What is even more disturbing is that the state of Georgia did not have a single shred of physical evidence. None!
What many people at first thought was overwhelming testimony by nine eyewitnesses turned out to be just a case of legal corruption with witnesses recanting their testimony and no physical evidence.
Troy Davis should have been granted a new trial. Did we murder an innocent man? By “we,” I mean the state of Georgia, which represents each and every one of us.
There are times when a criminal deserves the death penalty, but what about those who might be innocent? How can we, as a society, live with ourselves knowing that we may have taken the life of an innocent person? Put yourself in Troy Davis’ place, living 20 years under a death sentence. Even the mass murderer Charles Manson received a life sentence.
The Bible speaks out against the death penalty: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:19).
And the apostle, Peter, warns us: “Do not repay evil with evil.” (1 Peter 3:9).
Troy Davis’ last words were “May God have mercy on your souls.”
Was this a legal execution or a legal murder?
Calderone is a conservative who lives in Midway. He is a professional salesperson and for 30 years has written articles for trade publications in various fields.