A Year After Troy Davis: What's Changed?

His execution captured the nation; 12 months later, there's still a spotlight on the death penalty.

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The Question of Race

 "Is Reggie Clemons the next Troy Davis?" Moye said. "We have to ask that question. His crime happened the year that Troy Davis went to death row. There is no physical evidence, there are allegations of police coercion, he was convicted based on witness testimony and a key witness was a former suspect. They are both black men, but Troy's jury was more racially balanced than Reggie's. The similarities are just uncanny."

Clemons was sentenced to death in St. Louis as an accomplice in the 1991 murder of two young white women, Julie and Robin Kerry. Two other black youths were also convicted, including Marlin Gray (executed in 2005). Clemons has consistently maintained his innocence, and his case illustrates many of the flaws in the U.S. death-penalty system, Moye said.

Additionally, at the time of the trial, the prosecution conceded that Clemons neither killed the victims nor planned the crime because there was no physical evidence that tied him to the crime itself or the events leading up to it. The two main witnesses were a former suspect and a co-defendant.

Amnesty International points out that not only were the murder victims white, but so were the two crucial witnesses. The three convicted defendants were black, and during the jury selection, blacks were disproportionately dismissed, resulting in an unrepresentative jury given the sizable black population of St. Louis, Moye said.

The flawed makeup of the jury was also noted in 2002 by a U.S. District Court judge who ruled that Clemons' death sentence should not stand because six prospective jurors had been improperly excluded during jury selection. A higher court later overturned the ruling on technical grounds.

But the fight goes on. Since the group launched its appeal to save Clemons' life, more than 70,000 people around the globe have taken action to demand justice for him, according to Amnesty International. More than 1,300 men and women have been executed in the United States since capital punishment resumed in 1977. In 2011, 43 men were put to death; 27 have been executed so far this year.

Troy Davis' Family Continues to Fight

 Moye said that the "I Am Troy Davis" movement is still alive, even though the family experienced more loss after the execution. Less than three months after his execution, his sister Martina Correia, who led the effort to free her brother, died of cancer. Their mother died in April 2011. But his nephew, De'Jaun Davis-Correia, and another sister, Kim Davis, have continued to champion his cause, along with the help of civil rights organizations.

Quoting Scripture, Kim Davis spoke at Thursday's news conference. She, like other speakers, echoed her brother's request not to allow the struggle for justice to end with his death. She pointed to Clemons' case and called on the judge to look closely at the facts so that he could make a right and fair decision.

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