It now looks almost certain that the execution of Troy Davis, despite all of the lingering doubts about his guilt, will go forward.
At 7 PM tonight, Troy will be strapped to this gurney, and leather straps will be fastened over his body and legs. His bare arms will be strapped to the boards projecting from the sides of the gurney, like he's on a cross. I wonder if there will be any Christians in the room when that happens, and if the sight will give them pause.
A 14 gauge catheter will be stuck into a vein on each arm. That is the largest commercially available needle- it's thick. It hurts. It usually takes a few tries to get it in, no matter how skilled the technician is- and the technician will probably not be all that skilled. It's often a prison guard who has received special training, and doesn't do venipuncture on a regular basis. And I can tell you, as a nurse, it is not something you master overnight.
Anyone who thinks that lethal injection is a humane way to die should consider this account of a botched execution in Ohio back in 2009:
For more than two hours, the team attempted to insert two shunts into a vein of the compliant Broom, who tried several times to assist his executioners by shifting positions, rubbing his arm and pointing out possible usable veins. [...]
At one point, Broom, 53, lay back on his bed, covered his face with his hands, and cried. Another time, while sitting up, he was seen grimacing as the execution team appeared to seek a vein around his ankles.
Several times, Broom rolled onto his left side, pointed at veins, straightened tubes or massaged his own arms to help prison staff keep a vein open. He was clearly frustrated as he leaned back on the gurney, covering his face with his hands and visibly crying. His stomach heaved upward and his feet twitched. There is no audio from the holding cell, so reporters could only watch his movements. When the staff tried to put IVs in his legs, Broom looked up toward the camera above, appearing to grimace, at least four times, from pain.
As Broom’s anxiety grew, he repeatedly wiped his sweaty forehead with toilet paper.
Once they get the catheters in his arms, his veins will be flushed with Heparin sodium to prevent clots from forming inside the catheter. A bag of saline solution will be attached to the ends of the catheter, and the curtains surrounding the execution chamber will be drawn. He will get a chance to make his last statement. They will check to see if there is any last minute reprieves. And then, they will start the drugs.
The drug they will use to kill Troy Davis is Phenobarbitol. It is the same drug used to put down family pets and livestock. There have been numerous occasions since it first started being administered in December 2010, where it has not worked the way it should. There are several eyewitness accounts of the condemned writhing, gasping for air and grimacing in pain for up to several minutes after it's administration. One of those accounts happened to be in Georgia, this past July.
Phenobarbitol is not the traditional drug used in executions- that would be Sodium Theopintol. But it is more or less the only drug we are able to acquire now because the manufacturers of Sodium Theopintol are located in other countries-humane countries, that do not have capital punishment- and they no longer wish to be accessories to our state-sanctioned murder.
And yes, I do consider this murder. A slow torture, followed by a cold, calculated premeditated murder. Torture because how else can you describe being told you are mere hours from death, on multiple occasions, only to be saved at the last minute, and then condemned once again? This is the 4th time Troy has faced execution in 4 years. You can anesthetize this all you want, you can make it look like a humane medical procedure, you can couch it in florid legal terms, you can put a nice pretty bow on it and polish it till it shines- it's still murder. And it's barbaric. And it's being done in our name.
Troy Davis may be dead within hours. I don't know how to deal with that quite yet. I've been following his case and fighting for him since 2007. I don't normally pray, but I am going to tonight. I am praying for Troy's sister, an amazing woman who has been fighting for her brother for the past 20 years. She wrote a heartbreaking article in the Huffington Post last week about her young son, and her struggle to help him understand what's happening to his uncle. I pray that she is able to find the words, because I don't know how you explain this to a child without shattering every shred of trust they have in the world and the very people that are supposed to protect them. I pray for his mother- as a mother myself, I cannot even imagine what she is going through, but it's enough to make me physically ill. I pray that the family of the victim is able to find peace one day- but I know this isn't going to do it. I pray for Troy, that he gets a miracle. But if not, I pray this goes quickly and with as little pain as possible, and that he dies knowing how much of an impact he has made on so many people.
Troy released a statement today to all of his supporters, via Amnesty International:
“The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I’m in good spirits and I’m prayerful and at peace. But I will not stop fighting until I’ve taken my last breath.”
I am touched beyond words that even in his present circumstances Troy was able to offer words of comfort to those who grieve on his behalf, and assure all of us that he is at peace. That is such a gift. I'm also amazed that he is thinking not of himself, but of all those out there who are also without justice. That speaks to the kind of person Troy is, and why I believe in my heart he is innocent. I've read that he's expressed amazement and joy over the response his story has gotten over the past weeks from all over the world. I hope that brings him some sense of comfort in these final hours. His life has a purpose. He has inspired something greater than himself. He has changed hearts and minds forever.
I am Troy Davis. We are all Troy Davis. And if he dies tonight, a part of all of us will die right along with him.
I am asking that this diary not be a place for debate, over the death penalty but for expressions of support, grief, and mourning. Thank you.
Please sign the petition to demand that the Board reconsider its decision and demand that Chatham County (Savannah) District Attorney Larry Chisolm seek a withdrawal of the death warrant and support clemency
NOTE: Due to high volume of supporters, please keep trying to sign this petition if your initial attempt does not succeed. Or try contacting the Chatham County's District Attorney's office by phone/fax: Telephone: 912-652-7308 Fax: 912-652-7328.
Updated with some great suggestions for showing our solidarity from Clytemnestra
Change your profile pics to Troy Davis
tonight and all tomorrow if you can/will
here, on twitter, Facebook, etc.
Let everyone see the face of an innocent man they will murder in hours ... maybe some who've here to fore ignored this story will read, be educated and then maybe it will turn a few more AWAY from the death penalty.
Fasting with Troy(facebook has a page too) in support of Troy Davis
and if you are unable to fast (and even if you are able) wear a black arm band with the words "not in my name" on it.
(if you can find some black fabric). A liquid paper pen (if they still have those) or bright red finger nail polished (or other stand out colors) can be used to write "Not in my Name" on it.
For a full background on this case, please read my diary #TooMuchDoubt-The Story of Troy Anthony Davis
Update #1- September 21st, 3:29 PM EST:
A letter from Troy Davis to all of his supporters has been released:
I want to thank all of you for your efforts and dedication to Human Rights and Human Kindness, in the past year I have experienced such emotion, joy, sadness and never ending faith. It is because of all of you that I am alive today, as I look at my sister Martina I am marveled by the love she has for me and of course I worry about her and her health, but as she tells me she is the eldest and she will not back down from this fight to save my life and prove to the world that I am innocent of this terrible crime.
As I look at my mail from across the globe, from places I have never ever dreamed I would know about and people speaking languages and expressing cultures and religions I could only hope to one day see first hand. I am humbled by the emotion that fills my heart with overwhelming, overflowing Joy. I can’t even explain the insurgence of emotion I feel when I try to express the strength I draw from you all, it compounds my faith and it shows me yet again that this is not a case about the death penalty, this is not a case about Troy Davis, this is a case about Justice and the Human Spirit to see Justice prevail.
I cannot answer all of your letters but I do read them all, I cannot see you all but I can imagine your faces, I cannot hear you speak but your letters take me to the far reaches of the world, I cannot touch you physically but I feel your warmth everyday I exist.
So Thank you and remember I am in a place where execution can only destroy your physical form but because of my faith in God, my family and all of you I have been spiritually free for some time and no matter what happens in the days, weeks to come, this Movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated. There are so many more Troy Davis’. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe. We need to dismantle this Unjust system city by city, state by state and country by country.
I can’t wait to Stand with you, no matter if that is in physical or spiritual form, I will one day be announcing,
“I AM TROY DAVIS, and I AM FREE!”
Never Stop Fighting for Justice and We will Win!
UPDATE #2- 4:00 PM EST
NOTE-As I have been at work, I haven't been able to update this with the latest developments. Here is a rundown of what has happened (from CNN)
[Updated at 1:28 a.m. ET] The Georgia Department of Corrections told CNN it has denied a request by Troy Davis' lawyers to conduct a polygraph test.
[Updated at 10:16 a.m. ET] The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has declined to reconsider its decision denying clemency to Troy Davis.
[Updated at 1:34 p.m.] Dozens of people have already gathered at the prison in Jackson, Georgia, where Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET, CNN's Gustavo Valdes reported.
The Rev. Al Sharpton is among those at the site.
The group is praying and holding hands, Valdes reported.
[Updated at 2:32 p.m.] Outside the Jackson, Georgia, prison where Davis is to be executed at 7 p.m., many of the speakers have struck hopeful notes, and some say they hope to change the system for the future, CNN's Emma Lacey-Bordeaux reports.
Many are holding hand-lettered signs, with messages such as, "Spare Troy Davis." Some have produced signs showing Davis' picture and the message, "NAACP says too much doubt."
[Updated at 2:38 p.m.] An example of the high-profile support that Davis has received: Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, New Jersey, posted the following to his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon:
"The State should not be executing Troy Davis. . . if there is even a chance that he is innocent, why execute?"
Davis has gained international support. Public figures including Pope Benedict XVI, Desmond Tutu and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, entertainers such as Susan Sarandon, Harry Belafonte and the Indigo Girls, and others have joined with Amnesty International, the NAACP and other groups in supporting Davis' efforts to be exonerated. On Wednesday, the French Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it "deeply regrets" the parole board's decision.
[Updated at 3:02 p.m.] About 100 people have gathered outside the White House in Washington, D.C., protesting Davis' scheduled execution in Georgia. The crowd consists mostly of students from Washington's Howard University, CNN's Lesa Jansen and Bob Kovach report.
One of the protesters, Howard graduate student Tamatha Scott, said in a CNN iReport video that the students marched from Howard to the White House, responding to student leaders' call to protest on Twitter.
“I started seeing the tweets about it late last night. It has been a very peaceful protest,” Scott said.
[Updated at 3:06 p.m.] A look at Davis' schedule today at the Jackson, Georgia, prison where he is scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m., from CNN's John Murgatroyd:
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Visitation with family, friends, clergy and/or attorneys.
3 p.m.: Will undergo a physical.
4 p.m.: Last meal offered.
5 p.m.: Opportunity to record final statement.
6 p.m.: An optional sedative will be offered.
Update #3, 6:10 PM EST-Georgia's Supreme Court has declined to offer a stay of execution. More from CNN (same link as before)
[Updated at 5:58 p.m.] Davis' supporters outside the Jackson, Georgia, prison where he is to be executed are growing louder, CNN's David Mattingly reports. Frequent chants include: "Death Row? Hell No!" and "Free Troy Davis."
[Updated at 5:54 p.m.] CNN's David Mattingly notes that Davis, who had been scheduled for execution three previous times, "has never been as close to dying as he is at this hour." A previous scheduled execution was called off more than two hours before it was to happen; this time, Davis is a little more than an hour from the scheduled time.
"He has already said goodbye to friends and family visiting today," Mattingly writes. "He's been served his last meal. Everyone is waiting to see if a last-minute appeal now working it's way up the legal system might somehow stop or delay Troy Davis' pending appointment with lethal injection."
[Updated at 5:41 p.m.] The Georgia Supreme Court says it has unanimously denied a stay of execution for Troy Davis.
The court also denied his request for another appeal to be heard.
His attorneys will now ask the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the execution – Davis' last hope, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said.
"The United States Supreme Court has a procedure in place. They know when executions are coming; they are expecting an application, so I expect this will be acted on fairly quickly. ... It’s unlikely that a stay will be granted, but that possibility exists, and that’s Troy Davis’ only hope," Toobin said.
[Updated at 4:33 p.m.] With one eye on the clock, celebrity supporters of Troy Davis are using their platforms to continue to spread the word about the Georgia inmate.
[Updated at 4:31 p.m.] A Butts County Superior Court judge has declined to halt the execution of Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis, scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Davis’ attorney Brian Kammer tells CNN the appeal is now being brought before the Georgia Supreme Court.
[Updated at 4:14 p.m.] Davis saw 25 visitors Wednesday during the six-hour window (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) he was allowed to receive them before his scheduled 7 p.m. execution, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.
The visitors included relatives, friends, clergy and an attorney.
Update#7, 7:53 PM (h/t RhodaA)
BREAKING: Mother of MacPhail (victim) told the US Supreme Court will decide on Troy Davis by 830PM, reports WTVM-TV
Update #8, 8:10 PM- Please disregard the previous update. Apparently 8:30 is the EARLIEST time they will have a decision, but it can happen any time within the next 7 days.
More information about the delay and the ongoing developments from The Guardian
The execution of Troy Davis was delayed temporarily by the US supreme court on Wednesday night, in a dramatic intervention just as he was due to be put to death by lethal injection.
As the first news came in at the Jackson prison that houses death row, a huge cheer erupted from a crowd of more than 500 protesters that had amassed on the other side of the road.
Davis's supporters kissed each other and threw placards which read "Not in my name" into the air.
But the jubilation was short-lived. Talk of a reprieve from the US supreme court quickly gave way to rumours of a stay, and finally the realisation that the court had only ordered a temporary delay as it considered the matter. The mood then grew more sombre as the waiting game that has now been going on for years with Davis resumed.
Until the delay was announced it seemed almost certain that Davis would be executed. Earlier on Wednesday, Georgia's supreme court had rejected a last-ditch appeal by Davis's lawyers over the 1989 murder of off-duty policeman Mark MacPhail, for which Davis had been convicted despite overwhelming evidence that the conviction is unreliable.
A Butts County superior court judge had also declined to stop the execution.
Davis's attorneys had filed an appeal challenging ballistics evidence linking Davis to the crime, and eyewitness testimony identifying Davis as the killer.
The White House declined to comment on the case, saying: "It is not appropriate for the president of the United States to weigh in on specific cases."
At the maximum security prison in Jackson where the execution was scheduled to take place, busloads of Troy Davis supporters from his home town of Savannah came in to register their anger and despair at what they all agree is the planned judicial killing of an innocent man.
Edward Dubose, a leader of the Georgia branch of the NAACP, said it was not an execution, but a "murder".
The protest heard from Martina Correia, Davis's eldest sister, who delivered a statement from about 20 family members gathered around her. She was heavily critical of what she described as the defiance of the state of Georgia and its inability to admit that it had made a mistake.
She pointed out that the state's parole board had vowed in 2007 that no execution would take place if there was any doubt. "Every year there is more and more doubt yet still the state pushes for an execution," she said.
Correia, who has cancer, struggled to her feet in honour of her brother, just a few hours from his probable death. But she exhorted people not to give up.
"if you can get millions of people to stand up against this you can end the death penalty. We shouldn't have to live in a state that executes people when there's doubt."
Dubose gave an account of a 30-minute conversation he had with Davis on death row on Tuesday night. "Troy wanted me to let you know – keep the faith. The fight is bigger than him."
Dubose said that whether the execution went ahead or not, the fight would continue. He said Davis wants his case to set an example "that the death penalty in this country needs to end. They call it execution; we call it murder."
Hundreds of people gathered outside the prison, many wearing T-shirts that said: "I am Troy Davis". The activist Al Sharpton said: "What is facing execution tonight is not just the body of Troy Davis, but the spirit of due justice in the state of Georgia."
Larry Coz, the executive director of Amnesty in the US, which has led the international campaign for clemency, said demonstrations were happening outside US embassies in France, Mali, Hong Kong, Peru, Germany and the UK.
"We will not stop fighting until we live in a world where no state thinks it can kill innocent people."
Also, it is being reported that Clarance Thomas was the one who requested the delay. Amy Goodman's guest on Democracy Now stated this is actually a very good sign, because the last time he requested a reprieve they ended up offering a stay. It should also be noted that Clarence Thomas is originally from Georgia, and several prominent Republicans including former FBI director William Sessions and Bob Barr have come out in support of Troy Davis in the past few weeks.
UPDATE #9- Amy Goodman is reporting that the Supreme Court has refused to block the execution of Troy Davis. They will go forward with this murder.
Prayers for Troy and his family.
Final Update- Troy Anthony Davis was killed by the State of Georgia tonight.
I'm going to paraphrase what I've heard about his last moments...
He went very quietly, but he was steadfast until the very end. He spoke directly to the MacPhail family, who were sitting in the front row. These were his last words:
"I'd like to address the MacPhail family. Let you know, despite the situation you are in, I'm not the one who personally killed your son, your father, your brother. I am innocent.
The incident that happened that night is not my fault. I did not have a gun. All I can ask ... is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth.
I ask my family and friends to continue to fight this fight.
For those about to take my life, God have mercy on your souls. And may God bless your souls."
It took 15 minutes, which is a long time as these things go. He blinked rapidly several times and then went unconscious. And then they administered the drugs to stop his heart. The execution began at 11:53 and he was pronounced dead at 11:08 PM.
The Mark MacPhail- the victims son- and his brother were in the front row and sat emotionless, leaning forward and staring at him the whole time. After he was pronounced dead, they were seen smiling and hugging one another.
Troy refused his last meal, he refused to make a formal last statement, he refused the sedative. Up until the last breath, he fought. Just like he said he would.
This is an evil thing, what has happened tonight. I am ashamed of my country. From the moment of elation when we thought there was a stay, to the crushing defeat of learning that it was not the case, and finally learning that he was gone forever, this night has been an experience that will stay ingrained on my spirit for the rest of my life. I am not being hyperbolic when I say I feel like a peice of me has died tonight. I still can't believe this really happened.
Thank you to everyone who commented here tonight...without you I don't know how I would have gotten through this.
October 9, 1968 - September 21, 2011