Family and supporters of Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis say they remain optimistic in their fight to save him from execution despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reject his appeal, Monday.

“People always ask us every time there is a decision – especially a negative decision – how do we feel, and we feel the same way: that this is far from over and that we’re not going to stop fighting until there is nothing left to do,” Davis’ sister, Martina Correia, told the AFRO.

In June 2010, Davis’ supporters had much to celebrate: After a years-long battle, his lawyers – based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling – returned to a Savannah, Ga. court and offered evidence, including recanted testimony, which they believed would negate his 1991 conviction for the slaying of off-duty police officer Mark Allen MacPhail. Three months later, the U.S. District Court ruled Davis had not met the required standard to prove his innocence, taking him one step closer to the death penalty.

“Sending the case back to Savannah for a hearing, we knew it was a long-shot because it’s sending it back to the same judges, and same prosecutors that convicted Troy, and, of course, they’re not going to admit that they lied and had misconduct in this case,” Correia said. “So we knew this was an uphill battle, just as all his hearings have been an uphill battle.”

Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), which has been advocating on behalf of Davis, said it is “extremely disappointed” by the high court’s decision to reject Davis’ appeal of the federal district court’s ruling.

“It appears that the justice system is comfortable allowing someone to be executed when there are lingering doubts about guilt in the case,” said Laura Moye, AIUSA’s death penalty abolition campaign director, in a statement, Monday. “No objective person could confidently determine that Davis is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt from the evidence available now in his case. That leaves an ominous cloud hanging over an irreversible sentence such as the death penalty.”

Moye said given the questions raised in this case, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles could commute Davis’ sentence to life instead of executing him.

Correia said her brother’s lawyers are looking into possible next moves and Davis’s supporters are going to continue raising their voices on his behalf. “Because of the advocacy and the activism we’ve amassed around the world around Troy’s case, we’ve always had hope and will continue to have hope and will continue to fight. The lawyers are going to continue to look for legal avenues … and we’re by no means giving up.”


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO