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Fresno Demonstration against the Death Penalty
About 20 anti-death penalty demonstrators gathered in front of St. John’s Cathedral in Fresno on Tuesday, May 19. They joined human rights activists throughout the world in a Global Day of Action for Troy Anthony Davis, a Georgia man condemned to die for the 1989 murder of a police officer – a crime of which Davis may be factually innocent.
About 20 anti-death penalty demonstrators gathered in front of St. John’s Cathedral in Fresno on Tuesday, May 19. They joined human rights activists throughout the world in a Global Day of Action for Troy Anthony Davis, a Georgia man condemned to die for the 1989 murder of a police officer – a crime of which Davis may be factually innocent. The purpose of the demonstration was to influence the State of Georgia and the federal courts to re-consider Davis's case.
The federal appeals court in Atlanta last week rejected Davis's bid for a new trial on claims he did not kill the officer. In a 2-1 opinion, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Davis could not establish by clear and convincing evidence a jury would not have found him guilty. Judge Rosemary Barkett dissented. "To execute Davis, in the face of a significant amount of proffered evidence that may establish his actual innocence, is unconscionable and unconstitutional," she wrote.
Davis, 40, stands convicted of killing off-duty Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail. The 27-year-old former Army Ranger was shot three times before he could draw his weapon. The 30-day stay of execution issued April 16th expires on May 15th. This opens the door for the state of Georgia to issue and execute a death warrant before the end of May. Davis' innocence claims have attracted international attention. They rely largely on the recantations of key prosecution witnesses who testified at trial and on statements by others who say another man told them he was the actual killer. There is no physical evidence connecting Davis with the crime. One of the two witnesses who did not recant is considered by some to be the actual killer.
In October, 2008, the 11th Circuit granted Davis a stay three days before he was to be put to death by lethal injection. It marked the third time Davis' life was spared before his scheduled execution.
On April 30, the two-judge majority noted that state courts and the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles had exhaustively reviewed Davis' claims and rejected them. Judges Joel Dubina and Stanley Marcus said they agreed with those conclusions. "Davis has not presented us with a showing of innocence so compelling that we would be obligated to act today," they wrote. The judges said they view the recantations with skepticism and, after reviewing Davis' claims, "remain unpersuaded." Russ Willard, spokesman for state Attorney General Thurbert Baker, said the 11th Circuit made the "correct decision."
Tom Dunn, one of Davis' lawyers, said he was disappointed, but would fight on. "Troy is innocent and this struggle is far from over."
The Fresno demonstration was supported by local chapters of Death Penalty Focus, Fresno Center for Nonviolence Prison Ministry and others.
For more information, Contact: Maria Telesco 559-255-9492 maria.telesco [at] sbcglobal.net