Noted Reverend on Troy Davis: 'Moral Disaster'

The Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church says the case is in blatant contradiction to American ideals.

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With the clock ticking loudly for Troy Davis, the Rev. Raphael Warnock of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church conceded that Davis was running out of options. Warnock had visited with Davis on Monday, two days before the scheduled execution. "His faith is strong, his resolve is clear, he maintains his innocence," said Warnock as he drove to the Georgia Diagnostic Prison in Jackson, Ga., where Davis is scheduled for execution by lethal injection tonight. Warnock's church was once pastored by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Admitting that there were few options to delay or cancel the execution, Warnock said that he hoped the U.S. Justice Department would investigate the charges by a number of those who had testified against Davis that they had been pressured and intimidated by law-enforcement officials. Seven of nine witnesses against him have since recanted their testimony tying him to the 1989 murder of off-duty Savannah policeman Mark MacPhail.

On Monday, a Georgia parole board turned down Davis' last chance for clemency after hearing from the prosecution and the defense. Unlike in most other states, the governor of Georgia cannot intervene in the case. 

Quianna Glover, 27, told CNN on Wednesday that Sylvester Coles, whom other witnesses have implicated in MacPhail's murder, told her at a party that he killed the police officer, CNN reported. Glover said that she gave the information to the Georgia pardons board and has since moved away from Savannah after Coles threatened her. "If the Georgia Board of Parole had half the courage of Quianna Glover, we would not be in this situation, " said Warnock.

Warnock said he was not surprised by the massive international attention given to the case, with appeals for clemency from as far away as the Vatican. "When people take a look at this case, it flies in the face of what we as Americans think about ourselves and about our government, and the meaning of our Constitution and its focus on personal liberties and protection from the tyranny of the state," said Warnock. "Moreover, this case demonstrates in a clear way the race and class contradictions that are characteristic of death penalty cases in general." Davis is black and McPhail was white.

Pointing to the U.S. as one of the few countries still enforcing the dealth penalty, Warnock summed up: "It's a moral and spiritual disaster unfolding in broad daylight."

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