First, before I go on, we need to set the ground rules. I believe that capital punishment should be reserved for the worst of the worst. I believe that capital punishment should only be applied in extremely clear-cut cases. With capital punishment, we must be 100% correct, 100% of the time. There is no excuse to execute an innocent person. None. Timothy McVeigh is an excellent example of someone who deserved the death penalty, in my opinion. We had the evidence. We had his confession. We had his accomplice. There was no doubt that he was the one that bombed the federal building in Oklahoma.
Back to Troy Davis’s case. There are several places on the Internet where you can read up on his case. (Here, here) Basically, there was a fight in the parking lot back in 1989 in Savannah, Georgia. An off-duty police officer, Mark MacPhail, steps in to restore order. The off-duty police officer gets shot twice. The police officer dies. At trial, there are several eyewitnesses who testify that they saw Tony Davis with a gun. Davis maintains his innocence. Davis gets convicted for the murder of Mark MacPhail. There is no physical evidence. So, basically, the whole trial boils down to a combination of he said, she said. In subsequent trials and appeals many of the eyewitnesses stated that they were coerced into their testimony. Troy Anthony Davis is set to die, tomorrow.
There are only a few of us who have brains that actually act as a recorder. There are some remarkable individuals who can remember almost everything, down to the most minute detail. Most of us remember bits and pieces of an event. Later, when we are retelling the event, we fill in the details with pieces of our imagination. This is the way our minds work. For the majority of what we do as human beings, this is perfectly adequate. If you’re trying to remember how to get home, you don’t need to remember every single detail of every single street in order to get back home. Instead, all you need to remember is a few details, landmarks, and you can get home every single time. (Read more on eyewitness testimony – here and here.)
Our brains fail us in times of stress. There are multiple reasons for this which I will not go into. Basically, in times of stress, fight or flight, your body is primed for survival. You have a surge of epinephrine and multiple other hormones and cytokines that are designed to give you strength, speed and agility to preserve yourself. These hormones also give you the ability to block out extraneous information and focus intently on survival. Because of this, you’re not focused on the face of the stranger that is attacking you. There are many psychological studies which have shown this to be true. We also know that cross-racial identification is extremely poor. Therefore, all witness identifications should be thought of as suspect and unreliable. They may be true; on the other hand, they may not be true.
So, what do you do with Troy Anthony Davis? I do not know if there’s enough evidence to say that Troy Davis is completely innocent. I do know that there isn’t enough evidence to say that he is guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. Because our system is designed in such a way that you’re innocent until proven guilty, the State must NOT execute Troy Davis. In my opinion, it is the right thing to do. (f you want to do more, if you want to fight for justice – Amnesty International.)