Attorneys for death row prisoner Troy Davis are heading to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles today to ask the state body to commute his death sentence. Davis is scheduled to be executed on Sept. 23. Last year, the board granted Davis a temporary reprieve less than twenty-four hours before his scheduled execution, after numerous questions were raised about his case. We speak with his sister, Martina Correia. [includes rush transcript]
JUAN GONZALEZ: Attorneys for death row prisoner Troy Davis are heading to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles today to ask the state body to commute his death sentence. Davis is scheduled to be executed on September 23rd. Last year, the board granted Davis a temporary reprieve less than twenty-four hours before his scheduled execution, after numerous questions were raised about his case.
Davis, who is African American, has been on death row for seventeen years for a murder he says he did not commit. In 1991, he was convicted for killing a white police officer, Mark Allen McPhail. The case was largely built on witness testimony, but since the trial, seven of the nine non-police witnesses said they were coerced by police and have recanted their testimony. There is no direct physical evidence tying Davis to the crime scene. The murder weapon was never found, and there’s no DNA or fingerprint evidence.
AMY GOODMAN: On Thursday, hundreds of anti-death penalty activists rallied at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta calling for a new trial. Troy Davis’s sister, Martina Correia, was one of the speakers. She joins us now on the phone from Atlanta.
Welcome to Democracy Now! It’s good to talk to you again, Martina. Hello, Martina.
Martina Correia is — I can hear her voice; she’s on the line. The question is, does she hear us? She’s just about to go into the hearing today.
Martina Correia, can you hear us?
MARTINA CORREIA: OK.
AMY GOODMAN: Martina? We’re trying to hear Martina. Martina, are you there?
MARTINA CORREIA: I can’t hear anything.
AMY GOODMAN: Martina, can you hear us? We’re going to — Martina, are you there?
Well, for a moment, while we try to get our voices through to Martina, I want to play for you the words of Troy Davis. Last year, he was interviewed from prison by Naji Mujahid of DC Radio Co-op, a reporter with Free Speech Radio News. This is Troy Davis.
TROY DAVIS: I just want to tell everybody how thankful I am for their prayers, their support, and want them to continue to stand up for me, because anybody can be put in my particular situation.
It’s time for the young brothers out there in the street to do what’s right, to educate themselves and the younger brothers and teach them how to turn their life around in the right direction, open up your own businesses, make sure that you’ve got yourself in check so that you will have a better chance in life to survive and won’t be no product of a system.
It’s time for the sisters to embrace their brothers, the ones who are doing wrong, to talk to them and encourage them to do right.
But most of all, it’s time for people in general to stand up for everything that they feel is not right and to speak out and let their voice be heard.
My situation is a situation that should have never happened. But together, if we pull together as a people, I’ll be coming home. And when I come home, we can bring more brothers and sisters out, bring them home, gather them together, and, as one people, we can make a change in this wicked world.
AMY GOODMAN: That is Troy Davis. He’s scheduled to die September 23rd. We’ll go to break and come back and try to speak with his sister. Today, a hearing at the Georgia Board of Parole. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: Coming up, we’ll be talking about, quote, “illegal people” with the labor and immigrants’ rights activist and author, journalist David Bacon. But right now, to Atlanta, right outside the Georgia Board of Parole with Martina Correia, Troy Davis’s older sister, who has been fighting for his life, as she’s been fighting for her own, fighting cancer herself for many years.
Martina Correia, can you talk about the significance of today’s hearing and Troy Davis being given another date to die, on September 23rd?
MARTINA CORREIA: OK. The significance of the hearing today is a clemency hearing that we’re having. And last year, Troy came within twenty-three hours of being executed, and the clemency board, the Georgia Pardon and Parole Board, gave him a ninety-day stay.
And we tried to go through the court systems, and the Georgia Supreme Court ruled against us in the spring four-to-three, with the Chief Justice writing a strong dissenting opinion, saying that the court was morally wrong in its decision not to give him at least a hearing, because most likely his hearing would have led to a new trial, and Troy would have been exonerated. And so, the prosecutors in Savannah, Georgia, what they did was they waited ’til the Supreme Court was actually out on hiatus, and they got a judge in Savannah to sign a death warrant, because the prosecutors do not have to wait for the Supreme Court, because we still had a cert petition before the Supreme Court, and they weren’t even supposed to review it until October. And so, what they did was they tried to circumvent the court by getting an execution date for Troy.
And then the parole board came forward, and they moved the clemency hearing up. The execution date is actually September 23rd, but they moved the clemency hearing up until today, so they can hear from additional witnesses who have never been heard in a court of law and witnesses who — other witnesses who have recanted.
So, today, we’re hoping that the Georgia parole board will stand on its word when they say that there will not be an execution in the state of Georgia when there’s doubt. And there’s only one witness that stands against Troy, and that’s the witness that nine additional people say is the actual murderer in this case. There’s no DNA, no gun, no weapon. And only the eyewitness testimony is what convicted my brother Troy Anthony Davis in Savannah, Georgia of killing an off-duty police officer. And all of those witnesses, except for one, has came and changed their testimony. And the other witness, the only thing that he knew was that the person was left-handed, and Troy is right-handed.
So, today, we had a big rally last night at the State Capitol, where people came from all over the state of Georgia and other places in the United States. We had clergy. We had groups from all over, all kind of organizations. They’re going to have a prayer vigil today in front of the parole board from 8:00 a.m. ’til 8:00 p.m. We have people faxing letters, texting letters. We have people calling the parole board. And we’re asking for clemency for Troy, because the parole board has the power to save his life, because the court system failed us and did not address this Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which hinders Troy’s case. And so, right now, we’re asking them to really save Troy’s life.
And we want everybody to go to Amnesty International USA.org, and they can find all the information about Troy’s case. That’s Amnesty International USA.org. And they can just put in AmnestyUSA, which is fine, and Troy Anthony Davis, or they could text a letter to the parole board, and what they would do is they would just text the word “Troy,” T-R-O-Y, to 90999, that’s 9-0-triple-9. But we’re asking everyone that they need to do something, because in the United States, you should not be able to execute someone when you have very little evidence and the evidence is questionable, and all the witnesses are saying that Troy was not the shooter in this case.
AMY GOODMAN: Martina Correia, I want to thank you for being with us, Troy Davis’s sister, who’s been fighting for his life. He has been on death row for almost two decades. Interestingly, she, herself, fighting for her own life and was honored last year in New York by the National Breast Cancer Awareness Coalition, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the singer Sheryl Crow. This is Democracy Now! We’ll follow Troy’s case.