Until just before Troy Davis was executed, his nephew, Antone De’Jaun Davis Correia, visited him every other week. The U.K.’s Guardian has published an obituary for Davis written by the 17-year-old. Read an excerpt:
My uncle, Troy Davis, was arrested in 1989 and sentenced to death in 1991, three years before I was born. He was in jail my whole life, but I knew him very well. I visited him with my mother — his sister — on death row in the Georgia state prison every other week until his execution in September and he became a father figure to me.
Troy was wise, respectful, motivated and a great listener. He didn’t like the position he was in but said he had to learn from it, and used that experience to give me advice. He told me to pick the right friends and not to run away when things got rough; to keep my head up in school and take criticism positively. My uncle was a good family man before he went to prison. My grandma used to tell me that when he got a paycheck he’d give half to her to help pay the bills at home. He was responsible and respectful from a young age.
On 19 August 1989 a police officer called Mark MacPhail was shot dead in a car park in Savannah. My uncle was there at the time and, based on eyewitness testimony, the police decided he’d done it — but they had the wrong person from the get-go. Later we got lawyers to go through the case. They did very rigorous investigations and found there was no evidence to prove my uncle committed the crime — no DNA, no gunpowder residue, nothing at all. Most of the witnesses withdrew their original statements, and another man was implicated in the murder. We appealed, and the execution was stayed three times over the past four years, but on 21 September 2011 Troy was killed by lethal injection.
It was a tough time for my family. My grandma had died in May, so we lost two important parts of the family in the space of five months, but I think we coped pretty well. You’ve just got to learn from things and keep moving. My uncle’s death opened a big can of worms for Georgia and all the other death-row states. The case provoked a huge amount of debate in the US, and we received support from people all over the world.