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I’m sorry if my innocence is inconvenient.

It would seem that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles is far more likely to accommodate a repentant murderer for whom there is no doubt of guilt than those inmates who have the audacity to proclaim their innocence to their last breath.

On May 22, 2008, while Troy’s clemency petition was on hold, the Board commuted Samuel David Crowe’s death sentence to life after finding that Mr. Crowe was high on drugs when he shot his coworker in the back and then bludgeoned him to death before stealing his money and he was deeply remorseful and considered an agreeable and likable inmate.

Troy Davis, on the other hand, had the unmitigated gall to ask for his life to be spared based on his factually innocent.

Troy did so without feeling the need to apologize for any inconvenience his innocence might cause.

It is probably fair to say that Troy was not as content with the accommodations at the Jackson facility as Mr. Crowe appeared to be.  As a group, the innocent can be “annoying” in their discontent and their insistence that someone pay attention to the truth–no matter how much time has elapsed.  Whereas the guilty are understandably happy to leave the past in the past as they try to curry favor with the powers that be.

The Board dispensed with the pesky innocence question and set Troy’s execution for September 23, 2008.  Fortunately, the United States Supreme Court stepped in just 90 minutes before the executioner could have his way with Troy.

As a result, Troy lived another three years–not peaceful years, though.  He knew that Georgia was determined to kill him and that at any time he was likely to face another execution date.  He just did not know when.

In September 2011, the Board was, again, given an opportunity to consider the surprisingly complicated question: Should the state be permitted to kill someone if it is not entirely sure the condemned committed the crime?  Their answer, in essence was a modification of Tennyson’s famous line: “Ours is not to reason why, but to do and [let him] die.”

For those who are new to Troy’s case, Amy Goodman from Democracy Now provided extraordinary coverage of the events of Troy’s last day, as it unfolded on the prison grounds. Democracy Now! 6-Hour Live Broadcast from Troy Davis Execution: Did Georgia Execute an Innocent Man?  Two particularly poignant moments happen around 7 p.m., the time of Troy’s scheduled execution, when the crowd mistakenly believed Troy was given another stay, and then around 11:30 p.m. when the unimaginable news of Troy’s death made its way to the crowd and viewers.

Today (April 20, 2012), Daniel Greene received one of the coveted upgrades from death row when the Board commuted his sentence to life without parole.  Again, their decision was based on the fact Greene was high on drugs when he admittedly stabbed a store clerk in the lungs and then stabbed his former classmate through the heart before fleeing.  Greene then attacked an elderly couple and another store clerk.  But over the years he consistently expressed  sincere remorse and was, reportedly, a model inmate.

I am glad for Crowe and Greene, truly.

I personally do not believe the government should be allowed to kill people.  So, in my mind, any commutation is a good thing.  In these cases, the Board should be applauded for its ability to recognize the value of redemption.

Nevertheless, it is hard to reconcile their (at least three-fifth’s of the board’s) utter indifference to Troy’s innocence.  Over the months since Troy’s execution, I have often imagined that the Board members who denied Troy clemency were at least a tiny bit troubled by Troy’s last words.

I am innocent. . . .  For those of you about to take my life,  may God have mercy on your souls.  God bless you all.

Probably not.  Because, although Troy also expressed his deepest sorrow for the loss the MacPhail family suffered when Mark was gunned down, he forgot to apologize to Georgia for being innocent.

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