Troy Davis Executed Ten Years Ago Today -- Was It a Set-up?
by Mary W Maxwell, PhD, LLB
It has taken me a decade to notice something about the Troy Davis case -- namely, that it could have been a set-up from Day One. A decision may have been made that the Davis family, who were a strong, religious, on-the-ball family, should therefore undergo one of the attacks that "our enemy" carries out. (We can't have strong families, can we? Especially if they are Black)
Our enemy often stops at a lesser means than death. If an activist is too active, "they" can get him by smearing, by fines, sacking, or other tactic of impoverishment, by threatening to harm his kids, by giving him an illness or injury, or even just by causing a disability to someone in the family which will radiate distress to all.
I definitely DO NOT KNOW that this happened with regard to Troy Anthony Davis (born 1968). The original matter took place in 1989. Troy, age 20, attended a party in the Cloverdale section of Savannah Georgia. A young guy, Michael Cooper, was shot in the face in a drive-by, in that neighborhood. No one was ever charged (but should be, no?) and Cooper has declared that it was not Troy who shot him.
Later that evening, Troy was in a Burger King parking lot when a 27-year-old security guard, Mark McPhail, was shot dead. No one was arrested then and there, but Troy, fearing he might be blamed, drove off to Atlanta. His pastor went to Atlanta to bring him home, once the police said Troy was wanted. Troy then turned himself in, but this was reported as a "capture" by police, complete with high fives.
So, so far, we have three clues: the Cloverdale drive-by shooting should have been investigated (it later popped up as a rumor blaming Troy); the person killed, McPhail, was a daytime cop -- so although he was off-duty that night, it could be promoted in the news as a cop-killing; and finally, the capture of Troy was not a capture; it was voluntary surrender. I hasten to say that all three clues may not be clues at all. They may be random facts of daily life.
Oh, I forgot a fourth item. Another guy in the parking lot, Sylvester Coles, who owned a gun, showed up at the police station the next day, with his lawyer (!), to make a statement blaming Troy. Sylvester's cousin later accused Sylvester of the death of McPhail, yet he has never been charged. In fact, Sylvester is one of Troy's nine witnesses -- needless to say, one of the two who has not recanted.
Here is where I am going with this. Many cases of injustice seem to include malfeasance by large numbers of cops, prosecutors, lawyers, and judges. It has often made me wonder how so many individuals could be on the wrong side. How could there be such careful tending of the troops that you never see a slip-up?
Pondering the Davis case, about which more below, I muse that very few have to actually know that a man (e.g., Troy) is getting set up. They would only have to follow orders from a boss. For example, orders not to investigate the Cloverdale shooting, orders to play up in the media that there was an "officer down," and orders for cops to show jubilation and high fives when the Suspect is "captured." I calculate that only three persons at the top needed to have a sense of what was required.
So please let me go further with this, again, as an absolutely hypothetical exercise. (Granted, I'm a card-carrying conspiracy theorist, but I try not to rest my case on a bunch of speculations. I'm taking a semi-holiday from discipline here.)
Move on to the trial. Troy's sister, Martina Correia, told me that her family was told not to attend the trial. I muse that this was so the jury would not get to see that he came from a nice family who supported his innocence. Of course it was an outrageous breach of law that the family was told they could not attend.
Going along with my calculation of how this could have innocently occurred, maybe the lawyer, who was told to give the Davises this directive, was misleadingly informed that there was some other reason for keeping the parents and siblings out of sight of the jurors.
Later, Troy received, as all Death Row persons automatically receive, a chance to file a federal habeas corpus petition. OK, he did so. Then in 1996, Congress passed a law that limited the often decades-long run of petitions. The law is called The Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. Possibly it is worth noting that such stuff about prisoners had no business being wedged into legislation about something quite different.
I propose that there is a little gremlin in the House of Reps or Senate (a staffer) who arranges for these tactics. The gremlin may be one of the "handful of baddies" that would know how to handle a set-up case. But it's more likely there were other pressures coloring the 1996 Act.
Now move into the 21st century when Troy's sister Martina got cancer. Let me tell you she was a terrific person, a gift to the world. I know that it's a snap to give cancer to someone. (Every morning dozens of lab researchers give cancer to mice, to try out some experiments.) It must have slowed Martina down. I recall phoning her and she answered in a very weak voice "the Visiting Nurse is having trouble finding a vein" -- but by the next day she was chipper again.
I definitely don't think the death of Troy's mom involved foul play. She died five months before the execution, but she had already survived two occasions on which he was to be executed and got a reprieve. I imagine she died of grief -- looking around and thinking "How can I have raised a good son and now see him getting ready to die, based on tricks and malice?"
Now consider the nonsense about pardons. I only came into the case in early 2011, having seen at RumorMillNews.com that a pardon effort was happening, and that clemency for a Death Row person in Georgia was supported by a former governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter. It was because of that that I, as a reader of Rumor Mill, knew there was something rotten in Denmark. You don't have a pardon board standing up to someone of stature like that. Never mind that Carter had also been president of the United States (1975-1979)!
The number of people forming a bastion of support for a Troy pardon was over 600,000. Yet the five members of the Georgia Pardon Board (all of whom had background in law enforcement, which is not proper) refused to give Troy (then age 42) a full pardon, and wouldn't even commute his sentence to life in prison. Peculiar, what? Note: decisions to be made by a pardon board are not hampered by law. They can say Yes as they please.
Also, Georgia's governor at that time, Sonny Perdue, could have said Yes on his own, per the state constitution. But he said No. Recently he served in Trump's cabinet, as Secretary of Agriculture. I use the term "served" pointedly. It's my guess that Perdue was "just following orders." My God, what kind of nation do we have where the government is not really the government! It's gremlin city.
Now for the clincher. Both Martina and Amnesty International had gained a lot of publicity for the case. Everyone who read it understood that 7 of the 9 witnesses had recanted. Each of them risked punishment by doing so, which is in favor of their validity. The case went to the US Supreme Court and the Justices decided that someone needed to look at the recantations.
I don't know why they did not do it themselves (I don't know the SCOTUS protocol) but they sent it back to Savannah, where Judge William T Moore, Jr produced a document that I have published under the title "Contortionist's Delight." That is, he went to unbelievable lengths to show that the recantations had no value.
So what do you think I am going to "muse" about that?
You guessed it, I muse that he was following orders. In fact, I think he followed a simple order to sign a contortionist delight that was not really written by him. It takes a professional contortionist to turn out such a document. They must all work at Headquarters. (They've had the same style of writing for generations which is pretty mind-bending in itself!)
Some of the points made by the contortionist:
-- He refers to “live, credible testimony” from police and prosecutor, as though it were of the same type as disinterested testimony. This is unheard of.
-- Moore never says that in the document he is reviewing, some recanters mention being “threatened with guns.”
-- He misrepresents the defense’s effort to subpoena Sylvester Coles, and fails to say that some identify Coles as the killer.
-- Finding no other way to make the police coercion go away he discredits it: “Police would have coerced better than that.”[!!!] – Please re-read that sentence.
So who gave the order? On this matter, I need not be so obsequious, saying "Aw, heck I'm probably wrong. Nobody controls a judge." Yours Truly graduated from the school of hard knocks on this one. I am so used to judges talking orders that I don't even know if there are judges who DON'T take orders. My experience of this is not mainly in US. It is in another country that shall be nameless here, but it begins with the letter A and ends with the letter A, and is not Albania or Algeria.
Recall that my "conspiracy" idea of Troy's conviction and execution is that his family was destined for attack because Somebody in Charge does not like us to have strong families. Probably a strong Black family is even more of a no-no than a White. See Thomas Sowell's thesis that Black families were traditionally extra-strong.)
On balance, I don't conclude the Troy Davis story was such a total set-up that it required the killing of McPhail in the Burger King parking lot. It is more likely that a brawl broke out. Brawls do break out, after all. But I believe the US government (sorry -- Gremlins, Inc) do set up cases in which collateral deaths are required. That was already proven by the 1962 Northwoods Memo.
(Note: If it turns out that the Sandy Hook massacre did not take place, that kids and teachers did not die, then the death of the gunman, i.e., the non-gunman Adam Lanza, and the murder of his mother, Nancy Lanza, must be collateral damage of this type. Wow.)
We need to reassert, in the face of gremlins who have no regard for life, that we value life.
THAT SAID, I NOW CHANGE THE SUBJECT
Yesterday I posted an article at GumshoeNews.com to celebrate the life of Troy Davis, as it were. I created a fictional situation in which he did not die but was exonerated. Think how many happy changes in US could have flowed from such a development!
I'll now print here the full text of that article:
What If Justice Had Prevailed for Troy Davis? [published, at GumshoeNews.com on September 21, 2021, with accompanying photographs]
The following words were written by Troy Davis in 2008, three years before he was executed by the state of Georgia:
“As I look at my mail from across the globe, from places I have never ever dreamed I would know about and people speaking languages and expressing cultures and religions I could only hope to one day see firsthand, I am humbled by the emotion that fills my heart with overwhelming, overflowing Joy. I can’t even explain the surge of emotion I feel when I try to express the strength I draw from you all. This is not a case about Troy Davis. It is about the Human Spirit to see Justice prevail.”
Just think, what if justice had indeed prevailed? What if the half-million people who signed petitions for his release got a day of celebration instead of being made to feel hopeless?
Today, September 21, 2021, is the tenth anniversary of his Troy’s death. That is, we have had ten years of being under the expectation of no justice from the courts. His execution (judicial murder?) was both state and federal. When his case reached the Supreme Court in 2011, SCOTUS sent it back to a local judge in Savannah, asking for an analysis of the witness’s recantations. Then, accepting that outrageous, and I mean outrageous, analysis of the witness recantations, SCOTUS threw in the towel.
This case is so important to us all that I want to remove 'race' from it. Troy was black; the court was mainly white. I say who cares. Granted, many times in the life of Troy and his wonderful family, they would have felt the slings and arrows of racial discrimination. Sure, race has been an indisputable part of our country’s life. But the matter of injustice in courts is now universal; no matter what your color of skin, you will be treated as “equal.” That is to say, we have attained equality of oppression, pain, and humiliation.
The Waiting Room
Let’s entertain a make-believe scenario in which all goes well. But first I set the stage for the day, September 21, 2011, which was the autumn equinox. On the real day, not the pretend day, Troy’s family made a five-hour trip from their home in Savannah to the Jackson Prison where a Death Row prisoner can say goodbye to his loved ones. (Troy had been on Death Row for 22 years — his arrest at age 20 was in 1989; by now he was 42.)
His mother, Mrs Virginia Davis, did not attend as she was already in heaven, having died the previous April from a broken heart, age 65, in fine health. Troy’s sister Kimberly was there, and a teenage nephew, DeJuan Correia. Troy’s famous sister Martina Correia, who had been an army nurse in Iraq, was there, despite being in the late stage of cancer. (She died 6 weeks later.)
The Dad, who had been one of the first African Americans in the Special Forces — in the 1950s!, had died soon after the trial in which Troy was unjustly convicted. Martina told me that he died because of the injustice of it all. She said he stopped taking his medicine for diabetes and did not want to live. I believe the impact was particularly great for him, as he had come out of the army “expecting better.” Martina also said that his way of teaching the kids how to manage racism was: Do twice as good as everyone else, if not three times as good, so you will be taken seriously.
On the afternoon, Troy was “prepped” for death. He had already signed a form saying how he wanted his corpse to be disposed of. (CAN YOU IMAGINE!). On the Monday prior to this Wednesday execution date, the Georgia Pardon Board had said No to commuting the death sentence to a life sentence. Even the Pope and former President Carter, a Georgian, had asked for mercy for Troy — to no avail.
Word then came to the waiting room that Justice Clarence Thomas had been asked to rattle the Supreme Court’s cage once again.
The family — and the nation standing by on YouTube — were ecstatic. The same thing had happened before, in 2008, when Troy really was saved by the bell. But the delay in 2011 meant the family had to continue to sit on metal folding chairs until around 10:50 pm, at which point they were told that the last-minute intervention had failed. Troy Anthony Davis, strapped to the gurney, gave as his last words:
“… The incident that happened that night is not my fault. I did not have a gun. All I can ask … is that you look deeper into this case so that you can finally see the truth….”
Pretend Troy’s Life Had Been Spared
I am an optimist. I believe we are all handling injustice in America stupidly. We could lick this thing if we had the right attitude. Now I’ll go all outdoors showing what could have happened on that day, one decade ago. Just let me create an imaginary scene. With the family sitting there at 7pm, word comes in that Gale Buckner of the Pardon Board had experienced a change of heart. (Or maybe she came to see that her future would be unduly burdened by this tragic event.) Her vote changed the Pardon Board 5 votes from 2/3 to 3/2.
When prisoners are pardoned, they do not usually leave the premises for a week or so, but to give this story a party atmosphere, let’s say that Troy gets down from the gurney, joins the family and they march off into the balmy evening. Of course in this pretend story, Martina’s cancer went into remission and stayed there!
In Savannah, a few days later, Troy was deeply moved when scores of policemen came to the Davis home to apologize to him. They said their superiors had ordered them to force the false witnesses to put the blame on Troy. They had been feeling really bad about it all these years. The cops said the scales were beginning to fall from their eyes about a lot of things, and they planned to hold some public meetings to seek information from locals about what improvements they ought to make.
The next group to express a fresh view was comprised of the 3,000 clergy who had signed a petition for Troy’s release. They decided to form a united club for priests, rabbis, and others to declare that a new morning was breaking around the world.
The leader of this clergy band had been moved by a bunch of Irish nuns whom Martina had roped in during her campaign to save Troy. They priests said “It is our plain duty to preach from the pulpit that court corruption must end. The Good Lord will not forgive us for standing as spectators while justice is collapsing.” Yay!
Before long, many journalists and editors, including those from the Atlanta Constitution-Journal and the New York Times did a major re-think of their professional ethics. They would attend court trials, take notes, speak to witnesses, and attempt to tell it like it is, instead of operating on the basis of a formula that tends to polarize people and creates a sense of hopelessness.
Some of their videographers offered to do a documentary on the seven persons who had recanted their false testimony against Troy in 1989. Here are two examples:
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. …. 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.”
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 ….”
The recanters would also be given medals for the courage they displayed by finally telling the truth, in the face of the government threatening them with a perjury charge for their original lying!
Word about this documentary passed over to the law department at University of Georgia in Athens GA. Students quickly saw that many prosecutorial habits would have to be thrown out with the bath water. They recalled that their teacher, Professor Wilkes, had criticized the practice of copsuckery. He wrote:
“I am concerned about the judge’s practice of methodically accepting the police versions of disputed events while simultaneously rejecting citizens’ versions of these events. This verges on what is called ‘copsuckery’ – slavish or excessive deference to law enforcement personnel — and may be another manifestation of regulatory capture in the criminal justice system, under which many judges view themselves not as protectors of the rights of citizens but as cheerleaders for police and prosecutors.”
Troy’s sister Ms Kimberly Davis had been rightfully righteous at the time of the non-pretend execution on September 21, 2011. She had told The Guardian she would work to clear her brother’s name. Kimberly, who was bereaved of both her parents and both her beloved siblings had said:
“My brother was murdered by the state of Georgia. For the Troy Davises who came before him, and the Troy Davises who will come after him, we want to stop the killing of innocent men.”
Thus, in the revised scenario, when Pardon Board, police, clergy, journalists, law students had all taken a new lease on life, Kimberly set out to encourage human rights movements both at home and abroad. Her sister had gone on an Amnesty International trip to France where a huge collection of activists gathered to wave the flag for Troy.
But this time Kimberly was accompanied by Troy!
I hardly need say that when other men on Death Row came forward with a genuine story of innocence, both Troy and Kimberly quickly put paid to their “gurney visit.” Consider the plight of Nathaniel Wood in Alabama. On March 4, 2020, I had sent a petition for a Writ of Error Coram Nobis for him. It said:
“In Nathaniel Woods case, the jury did not hear information that was withheld about the policemen who were killed. The actual killer, Kerry Spencer, has said that Woods is 100% innocent. Missing from the trial was available information that the police who were killed ran a protection scheme with drug dealers in Birmingham. They had entered the house earlier in the day looking for their debtor, Tyran Cooper.
“The prosecutor built a case that Nathaniel Woods ‘masterminded’ the killing of police out of hatred of cops. The evidence for that came from Woods’ girlfriend who later said she was coerced by threats, as she had violated probation. The killer, Kerry Spence, attests that there was no masterminding — the shooting took place in an extreme moment of self-defense.”
Alabama did execute Nathaniel, but Kerry Spence remains on Death Row there (now in 2021). Kimberly can do her thing!
In my 2013 book Fraud Upon the Court, I quoted Charles Lamb’s poem, Hester, as a tribute to Martina. I now re-quote as a tribute to Kimberly Davis:
When maidens such as Hester die
Their place ye may not well supply...
A springy motion in her gate,
a rising step did indicate
Of pride and joy no common rate...
A waking eye, a prying mind,
A heart that stirs is hard to bind;
A hawk’s keen sight ye cannot blind,
You could not Hester.
Thank you, Troy, for your good life.
Mary W Maxwell is the author of "Boston's Marathon Bombing: What Can Law Do?" She is also the appellant in a mandatory-vaccination case currently before the First Circuit: Maxwell v US Secretary of Defense.