Anthony Graves, Troy Davis and Innocence

Anthony Graves spent 12 years on death row in Texas for a crime he didn't commit.

The story of Anthony Graves illustrates how a particularly heinous crime can lead to an emotional response and a tunnel-visioned investigation, and how the result can be that someone ends up on death row based on nothing more than flimsy physical evidence (later discredited) and dubious witness testimony (later recanted).

Anthony Graves, it turns out, was innocent, and was set free from Texas death row late last year.  CBS’ 48 Hours Mystery did a good job of telling the story this weekend, and you can watch it below.

Troy Davis, who was also sentenced to death despite a lack of physical evidence tying him to the crime, and who remains on death row in Georgia despite recantations from most of the witnesses who testified against him, has so far been unable to exonerate himself.

Troy Davis is on death row in Georgia despite serious claims of innocence.

One of the major differences between the two cases is that Graves convinced a federal court that his constitutional rights were violated, and so he got a new trial.  This new trial came with a presumption of innocence.  Graves’ case was then given to a new prosecutor who reviewed it, declared Graves to be an innocent man, and dropped the charges against him instead of bothering with another trial.

Troy Davis has not gotten a new trial – the Georgia Supreme Court denied his extraordinary motion for a new trial by a 4-3 vote in 2008.  Without a presumption of innocence, Troy Davis has been left to try to prove his innocence while still being presumed guilty.

Yet who is to say that, under different circumstances, with different courts and judges hearing their cases, it might have been Troy Davis who was set free and Anthony Graves still facing a date with the executioner?

As both the Graves and Davis case demonstrate, our courts are far from perfect.  This is why executive clemency is so important.  As doubts about Troy Davis’ guilt continue to remain unresolved by the courts, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles must step in and ensure that, at least, he is not executed.

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12 thoughts on “Anthony Graves, Troy Davis and Innocence

  1. Anthony Graves should ABSOLUTELY get compensation. The State of Texas' only reason for defending that and not allowing it at any cost….is a blatant cowardly act. By allowing Anthony Graves compensation, would be an "admission of guilt", and it's my personal belief that they are too much of a bunch of cowards to admit guilt. Aren't they smart enough to recognize the fact that Most of us actually recognize there cowardness, and that in fact makes them more of a coward than to admit guilt? What are these people? Eight years old? We see right through you….MAN UP TEXAS! Take responsibility for your own actions like mature, grown adults…you just might get a little bit of respect. Texas prides on respect…what you're doing is not a respectful act. If you want grand recognition, you should not only compensate Anthony Graves, but you also need to fire and INDITE the District Attorney who blatantly did, knowingly and intentionally illegal acts in this case!

  2. Anthony Graves should ABSOLUTELY get compensation. The State of Texas’ only reason for defending that and not allowing it at any cost….is a blatant cowardly act. By allowing Anthony Graves compensation, would be an “admission of guilt”, and it’s my personal belief that they are too much of a bunch of cowards to admit guilt. Aren’t they smart enough to recognize the fact that Most of us actually recognize there cowardness, and that in fact makes them more of a coward than to admit guilt? What are these people? Eight years old? We see right through you….MAN UP TEXAS! Take responsibility for your own actions like mature, grown adults…you just might get a little bit of respect. Texas prides on respect…what you’re doing is not a respectful act. If you want grand recognition, you should not only compensate Anthony Graves, but you also need to fire and INDITE the District Attorney who blatantly did, knowingly and intentionally illegal acts in this case!

  3. To wrongfully persecute and prosecute an innocent man..

    Anthony Graves was wrongfully persecute and prosecute for a crime he did not commit yet spending eighteen years of his life in prison and being placed on death row is worth full compensation that is owed for wrongful prosecution as well as wrongfully incarceration by the state of Texas.

    Texas needs to fix the injustice done to Anthony Graves and take responsibility for the inability to seek the truth yet as plain as day it was told to them on the deathbed of a dying man, a murder with nothing to loose.. Technically using this man as an example of what injustices can be done and are still being done today. Anthony Graves can never get back time lost but compensation can help him move on with his life. .

  4. To wrongfully persecute and prosecute an innocent man..

    Anthony Graves was wrongfully persecute and prosecute for a crime he did not commit yet spending eighteen years of his life in prison and being placed on death row is worth full compensation that is owed for wrongful prosecution as well as wrongfully incarceration by the state of Texas.

    Texas needs to fix the injustice done to Anthony Graves and take responsibility for the inability to seek the truth yet as plain as day it was told to them on the deathbed of a dying man, a murder with nothing to loose.. Technically using this man as an example of what injustices can be done and are still being done today. Anthony Graves can never get back time lost but compensation can help him move on with his life. .

  5. USA !

    How Many more Innocent are held at Guantanamo Bay ??
    When do you plan to release them?
    When is Amnesty going to lobby against USA for the Human Rights Violations they do ?
    How about AI voice against USA for the unwarranted killings that happen in Middle East ???

  6. Savannah, GA remains a racially divided community. Most of the local media coverage has been slanted in favor of the McPhail family regarding the Davis case.
    Generally, this town remains polarized, racially segregated and, shall I suggest – behind the times, with the natives intent on preserving the status quo. As with most mainstream press, the local media seems to be playing judge and jury, and unfortunately, egging on the executioners.
    BOYCOTT SAVANNAH!

  7. USA !

    How Many more Innocent are held at Guantanamo Bay ??
    When do you plan to release them?
    When is Amnesty going to lobby against USA for the Human Rights Violations they do ?
    How about AI voice against USA for the unwarranted killings that happen in Middle East ???

  8. Savannah, GA remains a racially divided community. Most of the local media coverage has been slanted in favor of the McPhail family regarding the Davis case.
    Generally, this town remains polarized, racially segregated and, shall I suggest – behind the times, with the natives intent on preserving the status quo. As with most mainstream press, the local media seems to be playing judge and jury, and unfortunately, egging on the executioners.
    BOYCOTT SAVANNAH!

  9. @A. Dee: this is precisely what is going on. If you read the comments to the stories (especially, but the stories themselves are at least slanted) covering the case on savannahnow.com, and then you read the stories in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, you can see how atrociously motivated by race and vengeance the local prosecutors, judges and media are. One person even commented vociferously that both Troy and the state's only remaining witness, who has been identified by several eye- and second-hand witnesses as MacPhail's actual murderer, should be fried. Martina is right; if the judge in the next county over from Chatham ordered a new trial for a convicted murderer based on the recantation of just ONE witness against him, then Troy ought to have been given a new trial long ago. I don't know how to boycott Savannah since I am in Massachusetts, but I would support any effort on behalf of Troy. What would really make sense at this point is for Coles to accept responsibility for what he's done – and the NAACP could work on making that happen by (1) sending a delegation to speak with his family while (2) brokering a deal for him with the D.A. At this point, what has anyone got to lose for trying?

  10. @A. Dee: this is precisely what is going on. If you read the comments to the stories (especially, but the stories themselves are at least slanted) covering the case on savannahnow.com, and then you read the stories in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, you can see how atrociously motivated by race and vengeance the local prosecutors, judges and media are. One person even commented vociferously that both Troy and the state’s only remaining witness, who has been identified by several eye- and second-hand witnesses as MacPhail’s actual murderer, should be fried. Martina is right; if the judge in the next county over from Chatham ordered a new trial for a convicted murderer based on the recantation of just ONE witness against him, then Troy ought to have been given a new trial long ago. I don’t know how to boycott Savannah since I am in Massachusetts, but I would support any effort on behalf of Troy. What would really make sense at this point is for Coles to accept responsibility for what he’s done – and the NAACP could work on making that happen by (1) sending a delegation to speak with his family while (2) brokering a deal for him with the D.A. At this point, what has anyone got to lose for trying?

  11. Time Out! It is past time for the judiciary system to stop imprisoning and killing Black innocent people and hiding behind the justice system, for everything is being revealed,especially the innocence of Troy Davis. There is no physical evidence that this man murdered that police officer,just a pack of lies were told to appease the police department at that time,now the masses of those lies have been recanted now what? The hateful, unrighteous,wicked people that is in control are running scared, they have been wrong for so long,they have imprison,beat,raped,robbed, stole and,killed for so long hundreds of years until they feel that it is just natural to kill any one who looks like Troy Davis irregardless of what the people say.

  12. Time Out! It is past time for the judiciary system to stop imprisoning and killing Black innocent people and hiding behind the justice system, for everything is being revealed,especially the innocence of Troy Davis. There is no physical evidence that this man murdered that police officer,just a pack of lies were told to appease the police department at that time,now the masses of those lies have been recanted now what? The hateful, unrighteous,wicked people that is in control are running scared, they have been wrong for so long,they have imprison,beat,raped,robbed, stole and,killed for so long hundreds of years until they feel that it is just natural to kill any one who looks like Troy Davis irregardless of what the people say.