Open Thread: Media Coverage of Troy Davis's Execution
Late last night, Georgia executed inmate Troy Davis for the murder of Mark McPhail in 1989. MacPhail, who was working as a security guard at the time, rushed to help a homeless man who prosecutors said Davis was hitting with a gun. When MacPhail came to the homeless man's aid, Davis shot MacPhail to death.
Davis's case sparked controversy around the world, with many declaring Davis was innocent due to the lack of strong physical evidence, despite a number of eyewitness testimonies. Davis's execution has previously been stopped three times since 2007, but he ran out of legal options yesterday when the pardons board and the Supreme Court both rejected his offer to take a polygraph test. Do you think the media covered the execution of Troy Davis fairly? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
It's nearly impossible to receive a death sentence these days -- unless you do something completely crazy like shoot a cop in full view of dozens of witnesses in a Burger King parking lot, only a few hours after shooting at a passing car while exiting a party.
That's what Troy Davis did in August 1989.
Davis is the media's current baby seal of death row. After a two-week trial with 34 witnesses for the state and six witnesses for the defense, the jury of seven blacks and five whites took less than two hours to convict Davis of Officer Mark MacPhail's murder, as well as various other crimes. Two days later, the jury sentenced Davis to death.
Many are still upset with the outcome of the trial, though. According to Fox News,
Hundreds of thousands of people signed petitions on Davis' behalf, and prominent supporters included an ex-president and an ex-FBI director, liberals and conservatives. His attorneys said seven of nine key witnesses against him disputed all or parts of their testimony, but state and federal judges repeatedly ruled against him -- three times on Wednesday alone. [...]
Davis' supporters include former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, a former FBI director, the NAACP, several conservative figures and many celebrities, including hip-hop star Sean "P. Diddy" Combs.
However, with the broader anti-death penalty messages many Davis supporters were chanting yesterday, it is also important to note that he was not Wednesday's only execution.
Davis was not the only U.S. inmate put to death Wednesday evening. In Texas, white supremacist gang member Lawrence Russell Brewer was put to death for the 1998 dragging death of a black man, James Byrd Jr., one of the most notorious hate crime murders in recent U.S. history.
Do you think the media coverage of Davis's execution was fair?