Troy Davis’s older sister and his most steadfast advocate. She has battled cancer for the past 10 years while leading the effort to save her brother’s life.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says Georgia’s execution of high-profile death row prisoner Troy Davis last Wednesday may have violated international law, citing serious concerns that the rights of Davis to due process and a fair trial were not respected. We speak with Davis’s older sister, Martina Correia, one of his most steadfast advocates. "I know the fight is not over," says Correia. "Millions of people from around the world are very upset by this. Troy’s case is going to be a catalyst for change in the death penalty, particularly in the South." The funeral for Troy Davis is planned for October 1 in his hometown of Savannah, Georgia. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: We turn to the case of Troy Davis, the Georgia death row prisoner who was killed by lethal injection last Wednesday after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stop his execution. Hundreds of supporters gathered outside the Georgia death row prison, holding out hope as the Supreme Court weighed Davis’s last-ditch appeal for a stay of execution.
Troy Davis was convicted of the 1989 killing of an off-duty police officer, Mark MacPhail. Since then, seven of the nine witnesses have recanted their testimony, and there’s no physical evidence that tied Davis to the crime scene.
In the death chamber, witnesses reported Davis used his last words to maintain his innocence and wish peace upon his executioners. Troy Davis was pronounced dead at 11:08 Eastern time, the cause listed as homicide.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights says the execution may have violated international law, citing serious concerns that the rights of Troy Davis to due process and a fair trial had not been respected.
We’re going to turn right now, for what has happened since, to Martina Correia, Troy Davis’s older sister. She’s joining us on the phone from her home in Savannah. Thank you so much, Martina Correia, for joining us.
MARTINA CORREIA: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: We understand you’ve just received Troy’s body.
MARTINA CORREIA: Well, we received Troy’s body, yes. We did not want the state to bury Troy. Unfortunately, what happens after an execution in Georgia is they send the body to Atlanta to the State Crime Lab, and then the family has to decide, before the execution, where you want the body and if you want it cremated and all this other stuff, and, of course, at the family’s expense. So you have to pay to have the body taken to Atlanta and then pay to have the body brought back to your place of record, if that’s what you want. And, you know, if the state is doing all the executing, and they’re sending him to the State Crime Lab, I don’t understand why they put all those expenses on the family. But we do have Troy’s body, because we did not entrust the state to take care of his body properly. And we received several phone calls that, you know, it’s best to get Troy’s body out of Atlanta as soon as we can, because, you know, there are a lot of evil people out there. That’s all the caller would say. But we know that the person works for the state. So, you know, we made arrangements to make sure that my brother’s body was brought back to Savannah as quickly as possible.
AMY GOODMAN: When did you receive his body?
MARTINA CORREIA: We received his body day before yesterday.
AMY GOODMAN: Martina, how are you doing?
MARTINA CORREIA: I’m doing fine. You know, it’s amazing, because people are asking me, you know, can I sleep and things like that. And I told them that, you know, I say my prayers, and I think of my brother’s legacy and what he wants us to do, and I sleep like a baby, because I know the fight is not over, and I know that millions of people from around the world are very upset by this, and that Troy’s case is going to be a catalyst for change in the death penalty, particularly in the South. And it’s just really amazing, because a lot of legislators from Georgia and Savannah, that wouldn’t even give us a conversation, turned deaf ear when we asked them to step up, you know, and support Troy or at least talk about an abolition bill, did nothing. And now, since Troy is deceased, everyone is coming out of the woodwork, because they see that millions of people are faxing them and shaming them. And so, now, all of a sudden, they want to talk about abolition. And my thing is, we’re going to receive abolition in Georgia and throughout the South, but we’re going to expose the racial judicial system that killed my brother Troy.
And, you know, and I don’t want anybody to think that the fight is over, because we’re going to get through Troy’s funeral services, and then this fight is going to continue. And I want people to use their energy in a positive way and to know that they will be able to have a voice, because they’re giving Troy a voice. And I think some of these young people have just a taste of what it was like during the civil rights movement, when they saw all the riot police and the billy clubs, and they had the dogs up in the cars and, you know, the police riding up and down the street with sirens, showing their force to a bunch of students who were unarmed, who were just holding up signs saying, "I am Troy Davis." And the police were very defiant, saying—you know, pretty much saying, "You’re not going to stand against the state and make us look bad," and so they were trying to use intimidation.
But we’re going to turn—we’re going to turn all of that on Georgia’s ear, and we’re going to shame the state, whether we have to go through with boycotts and things like that. And it was really amazing that the governor came out and made a statement how important it is to protect the innocent in Georgia, but he never once said anything about Troy’s case. And the fact that Troy could be innocent, you know, really is like a slap in the face, because he doesn’t care anything about innocent people. All they care about is voting and money to the state. And we’re going to show them that we have voting power and that we can stop buying in this state and supporting this state, because we want them to listen to what happened to Troy Davis. And so, my brother’s fight will continue.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to play a short clip of Troy Davis speaking during an Amnesty International teleconference call in 2009.
MARTINA CORREIA: OK.
TROY DAVIS: This is just the beginning of something that’s about to blow up to the point wherein we’re going to see some sort of success. We’re going to win this fight. We’re going to continue to open eyes. We’re going to continue to open these prison doors. We’re going to continue to hold accountable all those that are in charge of these unjust systems. And we’re going to force them, through our actions and our humanitarian work, to do what’s right, instead of just turning the other cheek, because there is no reason why innocent people should not have an opportunity to prove their innocence. Time should not be an issue, especially when someone’s life is in jeopardy. Together, we’re going to work this out. I’m going to walk free. And we’re going to have a day of celebration once again. But this time, I’m going to be on the outside of these prison walls working to help others, as well.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Troy Davis in 2009, speaking on a phone that you, Martina, had hooked up in an Amnesty International teleconference call. What are your thoughts as you listen to his words today, Troy, your brother, executed by the state of Georgia last Wednesday, September 21st, 2011?
MARTINA CORREIA: Well, you know, on the last days, when we had time visiting with Troy, Troy said that this evil practice of killing the poor and people of color and intimidating and using, you know, bad practice in the judicial system, he said it didn’t start with him, and it won’t end with him, even if he’s executed, but the work must go on, and that all they can do is take his physical presence, because his faith in God is protecting him. And he said that if he has to give his life for the cause, then that’s God’s will, but it’s going to open doors for people, and it’s going to knock down barriers that we couldn’t get knocked down before. And if that is God’s will, then he’s willing to be that sacrifice to make change, so that other young people don’t have to go through this. So Troy was not afraid. And we’re not afraid. And, you know, Troy has walked free from those prison cells. He’s no longer on death row. He’s no longer, you know, being put back and forth on a gurney to be killed and executed. And, you know, I’m just glad that my mother was not alive to witness this fourth execution attempt and follow-through.
AMY GOODMAN: Martina, I wanted to read the words of Allen Ault, the former commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections, who recently wrote piece for Newsweek called "I Ordered Death in Georgia." He writes, quote, "Having witnessed executions firsthand, I have no doubts: capital punishment is a very scripted and rehearsed murder. It’s the most premeditated murder possible. [...]
"I will always live with these images—with 'nagging doubt,' even though I do not believe that any of the executions carried out under my watch were mistaken. I hope [that], in the future, men and women will not die for their crimes, and other men and women will not have to kill them. The United States should be like every other civilized country in the Western world and abolish the death penalty."
Those were the words of the former commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections, Allen Ault. He called for clemency, talking about the level of doubt in Troy Davis’s case.
MARTINA CORREIA: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Your final thoughts, Martina, and also if you can tell us about the funeral for Troy?
MARTINA CORREIA: Well, we plan on having Troy’s funeral services on Saturday, October 1st. The venue and time will be released probably either later today or early tomorrow. And the reason being is because the numbers of people who are calling that say that they want to be present, you know, we’re trying to make sure that we have a venue that’s comfortable enough for everyone. Even if the venue has to be too big, we want to make sure people are comfortable. But—so that’s where we stand, Saturday, October 1st, in Savannah, Georgia. And they can follow Amnesty’s website, NAACP website, and the Savannah News-Press will probably have something in it. But my final words is that—
AMY GOODMAN: We have five seconds, Martina.
MARTINA CORREIA: —that Troy Anthony Davis’ name is known all over the world, and it’s making a difference.
AMY GOODMAN: Martina, thank you so much for being with us, and our condolences to your family.
MARTINA CORREIA: Thank you so much.
AMY GOODMAN: Martina Correia, Troy Davis’s older sister.