- Troy Davis was executed on September 11, 2011 11:08 PM. His death certificate reads 'homicide.'
- Mark MacPhail was shot and killed on August 19, 1989. No gun was ever found. No DNA evidence exists.
- Nine witnesses initially testified that Davis was the one to commit MacPhail's murder. Seven of these have since changed their testimony. Several cited police coercion as their original motivator for false witness. Police deny coercion was ever used.
- Of the two witnesses that remain, one has not spoken about the case at all since the original 1991 trial. The other himself has been suspected of committing the murder.
- In 2009, the United States Supreme Court gave Davis a new hearing, but because it is a post-conviction, such hearing function as 'guilty until proven innocent.' Not all of the witness mentioned above were called upon during the new hearing, and without the gun or DNA evidence, Davis was unable to prove his innocence.
From the early 1900's the fallibility of eyewitness testimony has been well established. The Innocence Project has helped exonerate 273 people of crimes they did not commit and states that "eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions nationwide, playing a role in more than 75% of convictions overturned through DNA testing." Many cases like Davis's have occurred before, with varying results (hear one compelling story on This American Life).
Racial inequality in the American justice system is rampant. Daily, people of color across the country are disproportionately suspected of crime based on their race, and police bias has lead to fatalities on numerous occasions. Almost 50% of prisoners serving life sentences, and 38% of all prisoners, are black (iconograph). These numbers reflect neither total US population demographics (less than 13% black), nor the demographics of actual crime being committed (eg. marijuana convictions). Furthermore, courts are more likely to impose the death penalty when the victim is white, clearly demonstrating which lives are more valued.
As for myself, I believe that the business of ranking sins, or the value of a person's life, is way above my pay-grade.