A Visit with Troy Davis

This Wednesday, an amazingly historic hearing will begin here in Savannah, Georgia where I will be all week.  The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Savannah federal district court to hold an evidentiary hearing to give death row prisoner Troy Davis an opportunity to present his innocence claim.

Troy Davis' sister Martina Correia with Laura Moye outside Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison where death row is housed in Jackson, Georgia

I visited Troy along with his family yesterday and asked him how he was doing.  He seemed fairly calm, but not sure how to feel.  His life has been on a rollercoaster ride ever since he was implicated for the murder of a police officer twenty-one years ago.  Three years ago, when Amnesty International first started campaigning intensively on his case, an execution was scheduled then stayed.  This happened two more times in the next two years.  I’m not sure how I would feel either given the ups and downs of our justice system.  But I did detect hope, which he has held onto these nineteen years on death row.

This was my second visit to Troy.  It was a strange place to be on Father’s Day.  But once I walked through the numerous double-gated areas to find the Davis family gathered around him, it felt oddly normal to be in their midst on this family-oriented holiday.  Troy was playing jokes on his two-year old niece, a bundle of energy that the whole Davis clan watches over and dotes on so fondly.  He has clearly been a source of support for his teenage nephew whom he checks on regularly to ensure he’s doing well in school.  And it’s this remarkable family, so full of love and commitment to each other, and to their faith, that accounts for the life that remains in Troy’s eyes, despite all that he has faced.

The hearing is a serious opportunity for the doors of justice to open, but it won’t be easy.  He’ll have to prove that he is clearly innocent.  In a trial, the state would have the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  And just what this legal standard of “clearly establishing innocence” means is a matter for the judge at the hearing to determine.

I hope to get a seat in the courtroom while the hearing is under way; though, there are likely to be throngs of people wanting to get in.  I sincerely hope that the hearing will shed more light on what happened the night of the tragic murder of off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail.  Both families have been waiting for justice and it’s time for the doubts to be addressed.

It is very sad that Troy’s family has had to think about the possibility of losing someone they love, someone who is clearly an active participant in their lives.  Being in the prison reminded me of how the death penalty creates more victims – the innocent families of the accused.  I have no idea what Father’s Day is like for the MacPhail’s and I wouldn’t pretend to know.  Justice has been a long time coming for them too.  And I really don’t know what to expect this week as the hearing draws closer, but I sincerely hope that learning more of the truth will lead to a more robust justice and help the healing of both families and of the larger community.

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14 thoughts on “A Visit with Troy Davis

  1. Our love is with you, Troy, as is our clear intention that you are found innocent and can now live your life in freedom with your loved ones.

  2. Thank you, Lisa, for the vivid account of Troy's state of mind. Please if you see the need remind Troy we are with him in spirit. We who can't be there appreciate your tenacity in helping Troy and his family. I will be thinking and hoping the best for you all these next few days. Please send daily updates on the hearing. Thanks, again.

  3. Thank you for the update Laura. Please let Troy know that so many people are behind him and supporting him.

  4. Thanks for the update, Laura. Even though the MacPhail family STILL wants Troy Davis dead for murder and don't want a hearing, yet there is still a chance that both the Davises and MacPhails are getting the justice they need. May God be with both families and forgive the MacPhails.

  5. The right solution is the abolition of the death penalty worldwide !

  6. Our love is with you, Troy, as is our clear intention that you are found innocent and can now live your life in freedom with your loved ones.

  7. You have my attention (and support) until you start mixing in good old good-time USA-branded religion™ into it, even so ever so subtly as you have done. For then I dismiss you as pathetic and hopeless and I walk away.

  8. Thank you, Lisa, for the vivid account of Troy’s state of mind. Please if you see the need remind Troy we are with him in spirit. We who can’t be there appreciate your tenacity in helping Troy and his family. I will be thinking and hoping the best for you all these next few days. Please send daily updates on the hearing. Thanks, again.

  9. Thank you for the update Laura. Please let Troy know that so many people are behind him and supporting him.

  10. Thanks for the update, Laura. Even though the MacPhail family STILL wants Troy Davis dead for murder and don’t want a hearing, yet there is still a chance that both the Davises and MacPhails are getting the justice they need. May God be with both families and forgive the MacPhails.

  11. You have my attention (and support) until you start mixing in good old good-time USA-branded religion™ into it, even so ever so subtly as you have done. For then I dismiss you as pathetic and hopeless and I walk away.

  12. Laura, once again you humble me with your courageous efforts to help the Davis family achieve justice. I stand in solidarity with you to expose the often unnoticed victims of the death penalty. Peace and love.

  13. Laura, once again you humble me with your courageous efforts to help the Davis family achieve justice. I stand in solidarity with you to expose the often unnoticed victims of the death penalty. Peace and love.