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The Troy Davis Death Penalty Case: It Helps to Know the Whole Story

I am not a supporter of the death penalty, so I wanted Troy Davis’ death sentence to be commuted on those grounds, for starters.  Then, over the last few months and years, many of us have heard things that seemed to make the case for Davis to be spared, and possibly be innocent.  The other day, discussing the case among my Facebook crew, I stated that I really need to get up to speed on what appeals courts look at when a case comes before them.  I figured that maybe, I’m relying too much on just the anecdotal information being put forth in the news, mainly by people who support his innocence.

Interestingly enough, I came across a piece by Erick Erickson, radio talking head and editor at, where he lays out the case.  It was just the information dump I was looking for and made me come to a simple conclusion–Troy Davis was guilty as charged.

What he points out make arguing to the contrary very difficult.  There were three Air Force airmen who were firsthand witnesses to the murder.  Troy Davis had Officer McPhail’s blood on his clothes.  Davis had a .38 that had been linked to a previous crime, and a .38 is what was used to kill Officer McPhail.

But there were two p0ints he made that really jumped out at me in this case that really point to Davis’ guilt:

For the first time in 50 years the United States Supreme Court ordered a federal court to conduct an entire rehearing of all the evidence. The court did and found all the new stuff was, again, “smoke and mirrors,” including the retracted confessions. And while building the case to claim that Sylvester Coles was the real murderer, the defense would not call Coles in for examination.

One would presume that with all the reviews of evidence and the rehearing, one of the courts would raise a fuss if there was a chance he wasn’t guilty.  None did.  Then, the second thing:

MacPhail reported in that he had run passed Sylvester Coles. MacPhail was shot from the front in the chest and face — not from behind where Coles was, but from the front where MacPhail himself located Troy Davis.

That one is hard to shoot down.

You can read the entire piece here.

4 responses to “The Troy Davis Death Penalty Case: It Helps to Know the Whole Story

  1. Pingback: When murder is good politics |

  2. Piet Martens September 23, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    You either are quoting very selectively are you didn’t study this in much detail. A couple of comments:
    1. “Troy Davis had Officer McPhail’s blood on his clothes” — which proves he was there, which was never in dispute.
    2. “Davis had a .38 that had been linked to a previous crime, and a .38 is what was used to kill Officer McPhail.” True, but the ballistics expert would not testify that the bullet that killed McPhail came from the same .38 that Davis had fired earlier that night. Plus, the other suspected triggerman, Redd Coles, present at the scene, also had a .38 with him that night.
    3. “There were three Air Force airmen who were firsthand witnesses to the murder. ” Actually two were heard, and one did not identify Troy Davis, merely someone in a white shirt. The distance was too large. Makes you wonder about the other identification.
    4. “And while building the case to claim that Sylvester Coles was the real murderer, the defense would not call Coles in for examination.” They had been unable to deliver a subpoena to Mr. Coles, one of their lawyers claims. That does sound like terrible incompetence, or a lie, of course.
    5. “MacPhail reported in that he had run passed Sylvester Coles.” MacPhail did not know either Coles or Davis. How did he identify them?
    6. What about the two witnesses that have claimed that Redd Coles has confessed the murder to them? Are they less credible than the witnesses (that now have recanted) that claim Davis had confessed to them?

    Davis may very well be the murderer of course, but “beyond a reasonable doubt”? What is worse, executing an innocent man or commuting the sentence of a vicious killer from death to life without parole?

    • HalFrontandCenter September 23, 2011 at 6:40 pm

      Read my subsequent blog article which has links to actual court docs and testimony. In short, there is consistent testimony from witnesses who have NOT recanted that the shooter had on dark shorts, white shirt, and hat. Coles wore yellow. A witness at the party earlier said Davis had on black shorts, white shirt, and dark hat. And the woman with young, who was assaulted right before the shooting, saw whY happened, picked him out of a lineup as being the shooter, and did not recant. Of all testimony, hers does the most damage. Also, Coles had a .38 but there was testimony that he did not have it on him at the time of the shooting. His was chrome. Witness said shooter’s gun was dark.
      Bloody shorts were ruled inadmissible so we ignore them.

      To me, the only way they could’ve gotten him a new trial is if they had gotten Coles to testify. There is no excuse that the defense waited until the last minute to serve him notice that he was to be a witness.

    • March 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm

      1) The State introduced evidence regarding Mr. Davis’s “bloody” shorts. (See Resp. Ex. 67.) However, even the State conceded that this evidence lacked any probative value of guilt, submitting it only to show what the Board of Pardons and Parole had before it. (Evidentiary Hearing Transcript at 468-69.) Indeed, there was insufficient DNA to determine who the blood belonged to, so the shorts in no way linked Mr. Davis to the murder of Officer MacPhail. The blood could have belonged to Mr. Davis, Mr. Larry Young, Officer MacPhail, or even have gotten onto the shorts entirely apart from the events of that night. Moreover, it is not even clear that the substance was blood. It was NEVER determined the substance was Blood & for those who say it was blood there was no DNA to determine who the blood came from.

      2) Davis was never linked to a .38 outside or hear say from a female & a .38 was NEVER FOUND. The only one known to have a .38 was Sylvester “Redd” Cole & he said he didn’t know where his was.

      3) I read the transcripts of the entire trial, no where in these transcripts does it say Officer MacPhail identified either suspect when he called in, this was all drawn up by the media. The transcripts are public property you should read them, alot more in them than the media ever printed. Then I ask you to go to where the one witness said she identified the shooter in the dark. I have 20/20 vision & I couldn’t identify my own father from that distance @ that time of night when we went through the case piece by piece.

      4) As far as the Air-Force Men, if you did see what you testified, do you ever wonder why you never tried to protect yoru fellow officer. Yes your int he Armed Forces & protect America in a different way, but this is a felow officer, so I really place no weight on what you say.

      I agree, Davis maybe the murderer in this case, I wasn’t there & I have no way of knowing. BUt folowing the transcripts & eye witness testimony, there i no way to claim Troy Davis is 100% guilty & execute a man under so many lies & false testimony.

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