The name of Troy Davis is known to most of us, largely because of media coverage.
But the details of his epic struggle, and the denial of the courts (state and federal) to seriously hear his claims are a lot lesser known.
Now, a recent book on the case, entitled, “I Am Troy Davis”, focuses on the Davis family, and reveals how the denial of justice tore the family apart.
It is a tale of misplaced vengeance, of political opportunism, judicial cowardice, and relentless struggle. It is the tale of courage against great adversity, tragedy and political betrayals (like the black DA elected by Savannah, who echoed his white predecessors).
When Troy Davis was arrested on August 23, 1989, it was because he turned himself in (after being told about the case by his sister), certain that he would be cleared of the murder of a Savannah, Georgia cop.
But the City, using threats and fear, assembled an ignoble chorus of night people to sell their version of the events, and he was speedily convicted and sent to Georgia’s Death Row.
His sister, Martina Davis-Correla fought, virtually alone, to bring light to her younger brother’s innocence, and to find qualified lawyers to take the case, for long hard years.
When a team of lawyers took the case, it was in shambles, and it took digging to find the truth: that Troy Davis was indeed innocent, and police had forced people to testify falsely, or they would face charges of accomplices to the killing.
Nonetheless, almost all the witnesses recanted, casting serious doubt on the conviction, telling of the threats they received at the station.
A turning point came on Aug. 17, 2009, when the U.S. Supreme Court, in a rare ruling, sent the case back to Georgia’s federal court for an evidentiary hearing. At last, the evidence came in: mass recantations, including new witnesses attesting to Davis’s innocence.
Alas, it was not enough, for a Georgia federal judge, William Moore, tossed out most of the evidence, finding recanted testimony ‘unworthy of belief’.
The ups and downs of judicial fortune raised the hopes of his mother, Virginia, a deeply spiritual, prayerful woman, his sister, Martina, and the rest of the family, only to dash them against the rocks of despair.
On April 12, 2011, Virginia Davis passed away.
On Sept. 21, 2011, Troy Anthony Davis was killed by the State of Georgia.
On Dec. 1, 2011, Martina Davis-Correla died after a decade-long fight against cancer.
Virginia and Martina died of broken hearts.
Troy Davis died from a broken judicial system.
Read”I Am Troy Davis”, by Jen Marlow, Martina Davis-Correla and Troy Anthony Davis; from Haymarket Books.