From the horse’s mouth

Barring a legal miracle, Troy Davis will be executed sometime between October 27th and November 3rd.

If you have been following the Troy Davis story you will have heard a lot about witnesses who have recanted their original testimony.  Some said they saw Davis pull the trigger.  Some testified that Davis had privately confessed to the crime.  And then there are those who insist that another man, Sylvester “Red” Coles, did the shooting.  Some are willing to testify that they heard Coles confess to the murder.

Fear is the glue holding all these accounts together.  Fear of the police; fear of retaliation; fear of being implicated in a dangerous business; even fear of an interminable interrogation.  Again and again, witnesses insist that they broke down after hours of interrogation and told the police “what they wanted to hear”.  Here is the major flaw in the Davis case: the investigation was handled by traumatized officers still suffering from grief and shock.  It was like asking the father of a murder victim to solve the case.

The men and women who signed the abridged affidavits that appear below are not particularly admirable people.  They lied under oath, or they refused to step forward until it was too late.  But eventually they did the right thing.

Or did they?  Three Georgia jurists found these statements compelling; four did not.  According to the law, Troy Davis must die because he failed to prove his innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.  The anti-appeals movement has been so successful that a convict must now prove innocence prior to a hearingThe government’s case can crumble to dust, but unless you have smoking-gun proof of innocence it doesn’t matter.

Please give these affidavits a quick read and tell me if you find them credible.  Then go to the Amnesty International Troy Davis page, scroll down to the “Take Action” link, and send a letter to the Georgia board of pardons and paroles.

Affidavits Recanting Testimony or Statements Given in the Troy Davis Case

(From: Amnesty International, ‘Where is the justice for me?‘: The case of Troy Davis, facing execution in Georgia , Feb. 1, 2007)

Kevin McQueen
“The truth is that Troy never confessed to me or talked to me about the shooting of the police officer. I made up the confession from information I had heard on T.V. and from other inmates about the crimes. Troy did not tell me any of this… I have now realized what I did to Troy so I have decided to tell the truth… I need to set the record straight.”

Monty Holmes
“I told them I didn’t know anything about who shot the officer, but they kept questioning me. I was real young at that time and here they were questioning me about the murder of a police officer like I was in trouble or something. I was scared… [I]t seemed like they wouldn’t stop questioning me until I told them what they wanted to hear. So I did. I signed a statement saying that Troy told me that he shot the cop.”

Jeffrey Sapp
“I got tired of them harassing me, and they made it clear that the only way they would leave me alone is if I
told them what they wanted to hear. I told them that Troy told me he did it, but it wasn’t true. Troy never said that or anything like it. When it came time for Troy’s trial, the police made it clear to me that I needed to stick to my original statement; that is, what they wanted me to say. I didn’t want to have any more problems with the cops, so I testified against Troy.”

Dorothy Ferrell
“From the way the officer was talking, he gave me the impression that I should say that Troy Davis was the
one who shot the officer like the other witness [sic] had… I felt like I was just following the rest of the
witnesses. I also felt like I had to cooperate with the officer because of my being on parole…I told the
detective that Troy Davis was the shooter, even though the truth was that I didn’t see who shot the officer.”

Darrell “D.D.” Collins
“After a couple of hours of the detectives yelling at me and threatening me, I finally broke down and told
them what they wanted to hear. They would tell me things that they said had happened and I would repeat
whatever they said. … It is time that I told the truth about what happened that night, and what is written here
is the truth. I am not proud for lying at Troy’s trial, but the police had me so messed up that I felt that’s all I could do or else I would go to jail.”

Larry Young
“I couldn’t honestly remember what anyone looked like or what different people were wearing. Plus, I had
been drinking that day, so I just couldn’t tell who did what. The cops didn’t want to hear that and kept
pressing me to give them answers. They made it clear that we weren’t leaving until I told them what they
wanted to hear. They suggested answers and I would give them what they wanted. They put typed papers in
my face and told me to sign them. I did sign them without reading them.”

Antoine Williams
“They asked me to describe the shooter and what he looked like and what he was wearing. I kept telling
them that I didn’t know. It was dark, my windows were tinted, and I was scared. It all happened so fast. Even
today, I know that I could not honestly identify with any certainty who shot the officer that night. I couldn’t
then either. After the officers talked to me, they gave me a statement and told me to sign it. I signed it. I did
not read it because I cannot read.”

Robert Grizzard
“I have reviewed the transcript of my testimony from the trial of Troy Davis… During my testimony I said that the person who shot the officer was wearing a light colored shirt. The truth is that I don’t recall now and I didn’t recall then what the shooter was wearing, as I said in my initial statement …”

Michael Cooper
“I have had a chance to review a statement which I supposedly gave to police officers on June 25, 1991. I
remember that they asked a lot of questions and typed up a statement which they told me to sign. I did not
read the statement before I signed. In fact, I have not seen it before today. … What is written in that
statement is a lie.”

Benjamin Gordon
“I just kept telling them that I didn’t do anything, but they weren’t hearing that. After four or five hours, they
told me to sign some papers. I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I didn’t read what they told me to sign and they didn’t ask me to.”

Affidavits Containing Evidence Implicating Another Suspect in the Troy Davis Case
(From: Amnesty International, ‘Where is the justice for me?’: The case of Troy Davis, facing execution in Georgia , Feb. 1, 2007)

Joseph Washington
“I saw Sylvester Coles – I know him by the name Red – shoot the police officer. I am positive that it was Red
who shot the police officer…”

Tonya Johnson
Red then took both guns next door to an empty house and put them inside the screen door and shut the
door … he threatened me after this happened. He told me that he wanted to make sure that I did not tell the
police about the guns he hid in the screen door that morning. This is why I did not testify about the guns at
Troy’s trial because I was afraid of what Red would do to me if I did. I have not told anyone about this until
now because I was still scared… But I have decided that I must tell the truth.”

Anthony Hargrove
“I know a guy named Red, from Savannah. His real name is Sylvester Coles. I’ve known Red for years and
we used to hang out together. Red once told me that he shot a police officer and that a guy named Davis
took the fall for it. He told me this about a year or so after the officer was killed…”

Gary Hargrove
“I am sure that Red was facing in the officer’s direction when I heard the shooting. … I was never talked to
by the police or any attorneys or investigators representing Troy Davis before his trial. I didn’t go up to talk to the police that night because I was on parole at the time and was out past my curfew so I didn’t want my
parole officer to find out about that.”

Shirley Riley
“People on the streets were talking about Sylvester Coles being involved with killing the police officer so one
day I asked him if he was involved… Sylvester told me he did shoot the officer …”

Darold Taylor
“I remember reading in the paper once about how a guy named Troy Davis got sentenced to the electric
chair… One day when I was in the parking lot of Yamacraw drinking beers with Red. I told him about how I’d
heard that he was the one who killed the officer. Red told me to stay out of his business. I asked him again if he killed the officer and Red admitted to me that he was the one who killed the officer, but then Red told me again to stay out of his business.”

April Hester Hutchinson
“Red turned to me and asked me if I would walk with him up to the Burger King so ‘they won’t think that I had nothing to do with it’. That’s exactly what he said… I told [the police] that I saw Red talking to my cousin Tonya and that Red was real nervous. I did not tell them about what Red had said to me because I was
scared he would hurt me. I was thinking that if he did that to a police officer, what would he do to me? I didn’t want to die like that officer, so I kept my mouth shut.”

Anita Saddler
“When I saw Red and Terry, they were jumpy and couldn’t stand still. Their eyes were shifting around and
they were looking everywhere. They walked up to us and Red asked us to go up to Burger King and see
what happened. Like I said, they were real nervous and fidgety. Red had a gun which was stuck into his
shorts. I saw the outline of his gun through his white shirt. I had seen him with a gun many times before.”

Peggie Grant (mother of April Hester Hutchinson)
“A few hours later, April called me on the phone. She told me that she had had a conversation with Red
where he asked her to walk up with him to where the officer was shot so that the police would think that he
was with her and not think he did anything.”

14 thoughts on “From the horse’s mouth

  1. There should be a movement to require that police interrogation of witnesses be video taped, and that defense have access to the tapes. That should put a quietus on the kind of thing some of these witnesses say happened.

  2. I feel sick.
    I can’t believe this is happening.
    I had hope that finally the Supreme Court would stop this.
    Now it’s back in Georgia, and a judge has already signed a new death warrant.
    Most likely on Monday, but Troy will be killed between 10/27 – 11/3.

  3. Charles–if I remember right, that’s one of the laws that Barack Obama sponsored and got passed (for his state) when he was an Illinois senator. When I heard that, it made me think very highly of him.

    I already send both fax and email through the Amnesty site yesterday, so I guess I’d better not do it again. I really hope Mr. Davis does not get executed for something he didn’t do.

    Police intimidation is a terrible thing and unfortunately too common. (Well, once would be too often. But it happens more than most people think. :-( )

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  6. It’s disappointing to know Georgia is willing to execute the wrong man and let a cop killer off the hook just to avoid the ego bruising admission that they screwed up. I’m stunned that cops everywhere aren’t hysterical over this miscarriage of justice. If they aren’t interested in justice for a cop killer, you can be damn sure they aren’t going to care about accuracy when they go after some guy who kills an ordinary citizen.

  7. TROY DAVIS, PLEASE REMEMBER THAT AMERICA IS NOT THE OLD SOUTH ~
    AFRICIA !!!

    A $TATE ECONOMIC BOYCOTT OF GEORGIA INTERNATIONALLY WILL OBVIOU$LY BE THE END RE$ULT OF GEORGIA DECIDING TO MURDER A PO$$IBLE INNOCENT TROY DAVI$ WITHOUT A NEW AND FAIR TRIAL ?

    US CONGRESSIONAL MEMBERS WHO ARE ALSO LAWYERS BY TRADE, CONTINUE TO DENY poorer AMERICAN’S PROPER LEGAL REPRESENTATION !!!

    THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY NEEDS TO BEGIN A FORMAL INVESTIGATION INTO THESE US CONGRESSIONAL CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS BEING INFLICTED ON poorer AMERICAN’S LIKE MR.TROY DAVIS OF GEORGIA !!!

    HAVING BEEN DENIED APPEAL LAWYERS FOR THREE YEARS ON DEATH ROW IN GEORGIA MR. TROY DAVIS IS NOW BEING EXECUTED FOR A CRIME HE MIGHT NOT HAVE EVEN BEEN INVOLVED WITH !!!

    SENATOR OBAMA PLEASE LET THIS COUNTRIES VOTERS KNOW YOUR FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS ABOUT A NEEDED FUTURE REPAIR AND RENOVATION OF OUR BROKEN JUDICIAL SYSTEM THAT CONTINUES TO ALLOW THE EXECUTION’S OF EVEN POSSIBLE INNOCENT AMERICAN’S LIKE TROY DAVIS OF GEORGIA ?????

    BEING THE WEALTHIEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD SENATOR OBAMA, DON’T WE NEED AS THE LEADERS OF THE FREE WORLD TO BEGIN ONCE AGAIN TO RE-INVEST THE PROPER MONIE$ IN OUR OWN US JUDICIAL SYSTEM, ASSURING ALL OF OUR CITIZENS THEIR RIGHTS TO FAIR TRIALS WITH PROPER LEGAL REPRESENTATION ???

    DOES GOD NEED TO LOBBY OUR US CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS OF THE FREE WORLD ON BEHALF OF OUR poorer american’s SENATOR OBAMA,OR ARE YOU WATCHING OUT FOR THEM ??

    ***OUR US CONGRESS CONTINUES TO DENY MIDDLE CLASS AND WORKING POOR AMERICANS PROPER LEGAL REPRESENTATION EVEN THOUGH WRONGFUL EXECUTIONS & FALSE INCARCERATIONS CONTINUE ALL ACROSS AMERICA ???

    *** 700 BILLION $$$ AVAILABLE FOR US BAILOUT, & NO $$$ FOR ALL POORER AMERICANS PROPER LEGAL REPRESENTATION ? SENATOR OBAMA, THIS JUDICIAL INJUSTICE HAS BECOME AN AMERICAN ART FORM, AND NO LONGER CAN BE KEPT HIDDEN OR SECRET FROM THE AMERICAN PEOPLE EVEN IF CERTAIN (501c3) U$ RELIGIOU$ LEADER$ HAVE BEEN $ILENCED ??

    LETS ALL HOPE OUR MEDIA FRIENDS CONTINUE TO SHOW AN INTEREST IN REPORTING ON THIS AMERICAN HORROR FACING THESE (TENS OF THOUSANDS) FORGOTTEN AND TRAPPED POORER AMERICANS, AND HOW THIS PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDER HANDLES THIS VERY SERIOUS ISSUE FACING AMERICA’S LATINO AND BLACK AMERICAN COMMUNITIES ????

    WITH 80% OF THE BLACK AMERICAN VOTERS SAYING THEY SUPPORT SENATOR OBAMA IN THIS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, IT IS ONLY FAIR FOR EVERYONE TO KNOW PRIOR BEING ELECTED OUR NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES HOW THIS DEMOCRATIC SENATOR TRULY FEELS ABOUT THIS AMERICAN JUDICIAL INJUSTICE CONTINUING TO INFLICT GRAVE HARM ON THE BLACK & LATINO AMERICAN FAMILIES AND THEIR COMMUNITIES NATIONWIDE ??????

    *** WHEN GOD’S FACE BECAME VERY RED *** THE US SUPREME COURT GAVE ENEMY COMBATANTS FEDERAL APPEAL HC RIGHTS LAWYERS AND PROPER ACCESS TO US FEDERAL COURTS,AND POORER AMERICANS (MANY EVEN ON DEATH ROW) ARE DENIED PROPER FEDERAL APPEAL LEGAL REPRESENTATION TO OUR US FEDERAL COURTS OF APPEAL, AND ROTTING IN AMERICAN PRISONS NATIONWIDE ?????????

    **** INNOCENT AMERICANS ARE DENIED REAL HC RIGHTS WITH THEIR FEDERAL APPEALS ! THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE $LOWLY FINDING OUT HOW EA$Y IT I$ FOR MIDDLE CLA$$ AND WORKING POOR AMERICAN$ TO FALL VICTIM TO OUR U$ MONETARY JUDICIAL $Y$TEM.

    ****WHEN THE US INNOCENT WERE ABANDONED BY THE GUILTY **** The prison experts have reported that there are 100,000 innocent Americans currently being falsely imprisoned along with the 2,300,000 total US prison population nationwide.

    ***WHERE ARE AMERICA’S RELIGIOUS LEADERS ??????? Since our US Congress has never afforded poor prison inmates federal appeal legal counsel for their federal retrials,they have effectively closed the doors on these tens of thousands of innocent citizens ever being capable of possibly exonerating themselves to regain their freedom through being granted new retrials.

    This same exact unjust situation was happening in our Southern States when poor and mostly uneducated Black Americans were being falsely imprisoned for endless decades without the needed educational skills to properly submit their own written federal trial appeals.

    This devious and deceptive judicial process of making our poor and innocent prison inmates formulate and write their own federal appeal legal cases for possible retrials on their state criminal cases,is still in effect today even though everyone in our US judicial system knows that without proper legal representation, these tens of thousands of innocent prison inmates will be denied their rightful opportunities of ever being granted new trials from our federal appeal judges!!

    Sadly, the true US *legal* Federal Appeal situation that occurs when any of our uneducated American prison inmates are forced to attempt to submit their own written Federal Appeals (from our prisons nationwide) without the assistance of proper legal counsel, is that they all are in reality being denied their legitimate rights for Habeas Corpus with our US FEDERAL COURTS and will win any future Supreme Court Case concerning this injustice!

    For our judicial system and our US Congressional Leaders Of The Free World to continue to pretend that this is a real and fair opportunity for our American Middle Class and Working Poor Citizens, only delays the very needed future change of Federal Financing of all these Federal appeals becoming a normal formula of Our American judicial system.

    It was not so very long ago that Public Defenders became a Reality in this country.Prior that legal reality taking place, their were also some who thought giving anyone charged with a crime a free lawyer was a waste of taxpayers $$.

    This FACADE and HORROR of our Federal Appeal proce$$ is not worthy of the Greatest Country In The World! ***GREAT SOCIETIES THAT DO NOT PROTECT EVEN THEIR INNOCENT, BECOME THE GUILTY !

    A MUST READ ABOUT AMERICAN INJUSTICE:
    1) YAHOO 2) GOOGLE
    (MANNY GONZALES THE KID THAT EVERYONE FORGOT IN THE CA PRISON SYSTEM.) ** A JUDICIAL RIDE OF ONES LIFE !

    ***Someone please tell our US Congress that the GED degree that Manny Gonzales acquired in prison is not a LAW DEGREE !!!!!!

    lawyersforpooramericans@yahoo.com (424-247-2013)

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  10. “Here is the major flaw in the Davis case: the investigation was handled by traumatized officers still suffering from grief and shock. It was like asking the father of a murder victim to solve the case.”

    I totally agree with this statement. When it comes to one of their own murdered, it is difficult to find an unbiased police officer to handle the interrogation – especially if the suspect is a black man. Even if officers from another precinct conducted the interviews of the witnesses, the “brotherhood” is far reaching, and the case of a murdered police officer is taken very personally.
    …………………………………..

    It is no secret that in America, “any black man will do.” Take the case of Rosewood for example. It didn’t matter that the young man convicted and hung – falsely accused of raping a white woman – was innocent. He was black, and lived in an era when it was sinful to even look upon a white woman. In spite of the testimony of his family that the young man could not have committed this crime, and the lack of concrete evidence, the white woman said, “It was a Niggah!” And that was all the mob needed to hear.

    …………………………………..
    The truth eventually came out, that the married white woman was beaten by her lover, on one of the occasions when they had sex, in the home she shared with her husband. There were witnesses to the truth, but they were black, female, and terrified to get involved. None the less, a whole black town, way of life, and families were destroyed – loved ones hung from various trees – died horrible deaths at the hands of white vigilantes.
    …………………………………..
    The brotherhood of police, in our supposed civilized society possesses the same mentality – any “Niggah” will do. Did Officer Mark MacPhail and his family really get the justice they were seeking? People are going on record to state that the “real killer” is still walking the streets. So where is the justice if the wrong man – Troy Davis – was executed? If the “real killer” is found out, and goes on trial for the murder, would not the MacPhail family have to re-live the pain all over again? Would it not have served all involved to really make sure that Troy Davis – without a shadow of a doubt – was the murderer of Officer MacPhail?
    …………………………………..
    The police and prosecutors were not concerned with trying the “right” man, but a black man. After all, witnesses said it was Troy Davis – a black man – who killed the officer. If they were truly seeking justice, they would have made sure that the “right” killer was executed so that he could never hurt anyone else again. However, since several witnesses point the finger at Sylvester “Red” Coles, the “real” killer still walks among us. Not only is he a dangerous man, he has a taste of blood and more than likely won’t hesitate to kill again.
    …………………………………..
    “Traumatized police officers should not handle interrogations of the killing of fellow officers – especially if the suspect is a minority. Truly, the pain felt is likened to killing a family member. I agree. A grieved officer can only think about one thing – someone has to pay the price. And in too many cases, any “Nigguh” will do.
    …………………………………..
    If we were still living in the days of lynching, and in some places it still happens, secretly – Troy Davis would not have spent 20 years on death row. He would have hung from the nearest tree, in spite of the doubts that he was guilty. Woe unrepentant America.

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