Troy Davis' funeral is today in Savannah, Georgia. While he is laid to rest, the death penalty debate continues as the condemned man maintained his innocence in the killing of Officer Mark MacPhail in 1989.
The public service is being held at Jonesville Baptist Church Saturday morning. Large crowds are expected, and several organizations like the NAACP are on the guest list. According to CNN, it is not a day to mourn. Instead, the funeral service is a celebration of Davis' life.
Mr. Davis' story received national attention as new information emerged that several witnesses recanted their testimonies; they could not place him as the shooter.
Since then, scores of people including former President Jimmy Carter, several celebrities, and the Innocence Project to name a few, called for a stay of his execution. Apparently, there was enough evidence to create "reasonable doubt" in Troy Davis' death penalty case.
As such, the general sentiment was perhaps the man on death row was wrongfully convicted. However, the courts said that the standard for recalling the conviction was proving absolute innocence in this capital punishment case.
But despite the last-minute efforts to stay Troy Davis' execution, he was put to death by lethal injection last week in the killing of the off-duty police officer.
To the Innocence Project's credit, of the 273 prisoners on death row awaiting execution, 17 of them were exonerated. This number is significant because even if one of them was put to death, it is proof the death penalty law is flawed.
How many others like Davis are watching the clock tick away in their capital murder cases when reasonable doubt was overlooked during their trials? While nothing is perfect in this world, a system designed as a deterrent has no room for doubt, failure, corruption, and negligence.
In short, there were perhaps two murders. The first was with the killing of officer MacPhail, while maybe -- just maybe -- the second was of Troy Davis.
On the standard of proving absolute innocence: If seven of nine witnesses recant their testimony in a case based on circumstantial evidence, the proof is there. One doesn't need a law degree to put up a strong argument.
It only takes a willing change agent of jurisprudence to take a closer look objectively. In other words, here is where commons sense trumps technical and outdated standards.
Rest in peace Mr. Troy Davis and officer Mark MacPhail.