By: Cameron Robert Staff Writer/Photographer
“I am Troy Davis, and I am free!” were the final words Troy Davis wrote in his final letter. These are the words that will end up marking his legacy in years to come. These words will mark the story of a man who was sentenced to death when there was faulty evidence involved. One would think that suspected false testimonies and no murder weapon found would be enough to free a man from jail, but in reality it was just a harsh reminder that our justice system is not perfect.
On August 19, 1989, Davis and a group of African American men were seen attacking a homeless man in a Burger King parking lot in Savannah, Georgia. What took place next would end up setting course of one of the most disputed trials in recent history. Policeman Mark MacPhail was found murdered after trying to settle the dispute, and shortly after, all eyes were on Davis. After standing trial for the crime, he was sentenced to death in 1991 as result of the testaments of 9 witnesses. At the time, the jury found this as sufficient evidence to put Davis to death, but he has fought for his life for the last 20 years because of it.
This case is controversial because during his incarceration there have been developments that question the authenticity of the very testimonies which put Davis on death row. These allegations have put doubt into play.
If you go beyond the Davis trial, the real argument is whether someone should be put to death if there is any bit of doubt present. Is it really worth the risk? Does this reflect a fair justice system?
As this story has unfolded, many people have compared it to the case of Casey Anthony, a Florida mother who was recently acquitted of slaying her infant daughter. Although the cases are quite different, they both cause one to wonder whether the system to which we all abide is going down the wrong path. With these two high profile cases, irrefutable evidence has supported definite verdicts, but ultimately we have been blind-sided in both cases by the results.
Anthony being white and Davis being African American, some people have even gone as far as calling it an act of racism that Anthony was acquitted and Davis was ruled guilty. Davis was acquitted of a crime for which there was insurmountable evidence against her, while Davis was put to death with possible negligent evidence. While I wouldn’t go as far as calling the situation racist, I would say that there is truly a problem in the way in which the trials were carried out.
I understand that not all the “bad guys” can be captured, but we as a people need to conduct a better system to handle these trials, especially when the verdict decides whether a man lives or not.
I also understand that America is a democracy, but I feel life and death shouldn’t simply be decided by a jury and judge. You must have evidence. No excuses!
Davis should serve as a symbol of what a faulty system could lead to. Nobody should be put to death without indisputable evidence of their guilt. Without a fair trial we might as well consider ourselves savages.
We all want to be free; the least we can do is give ourselves a chance. If not, we’ll just end up being another Troy Davis.