Letters to Pope Benedict on Behalf of Troy Davis
To The Most Revered His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI,
My name is Gautam Narula. I am a 15 year old student and I live in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, USA. For the last several weeks, I have been campaigning for Troy Anthony Davis, who was convicted of the murder of Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail. As Your Holiness may be aware, there is no evidence connecting him to the crime except eye witness testimony and 7 out of 9 witnesses now say they lied because the police and prosecutors forced them.-all his appeals have been turned down and he is scheduled to be executed on the 27th October.
When I met Troy Davis, I was amazed to see how he had survived through 19 years of prison life and was still able to laugh and to smile despite being in a place which has sub human conditions.
He has been deprived of the outdoors for so long that he started feeling the grass the one time they let him out to meet Reverend Al Sharpton. He did not feel any fear 90 minutes before his execution, when he saw the gurney they would take his body out on. How did he not feel any fear? He gave me his answer: “I was not afraid or scared, because God had lifted the burden of fear off my shoulders. I knew God would take care of me, and he took all my worries away.” I was amazed at the power that his faith, and his religion Christianity had on him.
For me this was a very deeply moving experience. Till then, I had seen religion as something that created conflict between people. I believed that if God existed he would not allow all the suffering in the world. But after meeting Troy Davis, I can no longer say that I know with certainty God does not exist. He sent me some books on Christianity which I have been reading with renewed vigor; if this is the religion that can sustain a man through some of the most trying times of his life, perhaps there is more to it than meets the eye. I am certain that one of the most lasting impacts Troy will have made on my life is that he has helped guide me through my spiritual transition.
Another great impact Troy has had on my life is the way I view the world. Before the Troy Davis case, I wasn’t sure of my position on the death penalty. I supported it in some cases and was against it in others. But now, I am firmly against the death penalty. Troy has opened my eyes to the truth; he has shown me that the death penalty is cruel and immoral. But even more so, he has changed my attitude towards life. I was not a bad person before I knew Troy Davis, but I was unaware of the suffering that still existed in our world. Yes, I knew that there was injustice and poverty in this world, but I hadn’t experienced it first hand. I have always lived a fairly privileged life; I have never been in want of food, shelter, clothing, education, or love. But Troy has made me realize how much more fulfilling life is when we help others. Life is more than materialism; it is about the joy we get in helping others, the satisfaction we feel in knowing that we’ve made a positive difference, the beauty in kindness. I may be only 15, but I have learned a lesson that few adults have learned, and Troy Davis taught it to me. Troy Davis has taught me that life is beautiful. Today I have more respect for a prisoner in jail than the officers from the justice system who have not had the conscience to accept that this execution would be a great injustice if it is carried out. That this case is full of doubt.
In school we have always been taught that the United States justice system is one of the best in the world, because of its “Innocent until Proven Guilty” attitude towards trials. Yet it has failed Troy Davis at a time when he needs it most; it failed him at the trial, it failed him during the appeals, it failed him in March 2008, and it has failed him now. We need a different kind of justice, one that Your Holiness and the Catholic Church can provide.
Over time, my respect for the Papacy and the Catholic Church has grown as I learned more about it. It has been a catalyst for peace, justice, and morality in recent times and Your Holiness has helped to continue this tradition. But I am not the only one; a movement is igniting around my school and the community for Troy Davis, and young teenagers like me began getting excited once they knew a figure as well known, and as compassionate as Your Holiness was getting involved.
I was very happy to learn that Your Holiness and the Catholic Church had been deeply concerned about the case, and that Your Holiness had pressed for Davis not to be executed. That is why I implore that Your Holiness once again tells President Bush to commute the death sentence. I understand that Your Holiness is otherwise engaged, as he is the spiritual leader of over one billion people. But should Your Holiness once again intervene, not only could an innocent life be saved, but it would be a sign all around the world that justice can prevail, that the death penalty is wrong, and that by fighting against injustice, we can make the world a better place.
Thanks and with the most sincere regards,
Gautam R. Narula, 15,
A Letter from Troy Davis’s nephew, Antone Correia
Dear His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI,
My name is Antone’ De’Jaun Correia and I am writing to Your Holiness with a special request for my Uncle Troy Anthony Davis, who is scheduled to be executed by the state of Georgia on Monday, October 27, 2008. I know Your Holiness sent a letter to the Georgia Parole Board on my uncle’s behalf and I thank him but my prayer is that he makes a special call to Governor Sonny Perdue, who has the executive power to save my uncle’s life.
Your holiness, I cannot explain the gift of joy that my Uncle Troy has given to me, I have never known him in as a free man. All my life, he has been in prison, on death row, yet he has been the best person I have ever known and I am proud to be related to him. I am so sorry for the death of Officer MacPhail and for the hardships his family has had to endure, but no matter how people feel about my Uncle Troy’s guilt, nothing will bring him back,, But how can the State of Georgia, in a case with far more than just a “reasonable doubt”, still want to kill my uncle?
My Uncle Troy wants me to be his legacy if he is killed by the state and I promise to make him proud of me. I have had a terrible time in the last year; My mother has been battling cancer for almost 8 years, and my uncle has been in the death holding cell three times since last July. This has been torture to ur family, but even more so for Uncle Troy. You can’t imagine the thoughts that are in my head. I feel so many emotions during this very stressful time in my life and I find myself not being able to concentrate in school. I try to keep up a good front for my friends and family but deep down inside I am hurting. To be waiting for someone to be killed, to know-how and when they will be killed- these are things I never thought I would have to face as a child I have had to tell my uncle goodbye two times before, and each time it gets harder to say.
I have been raised by wonderful parents to be a good citizen, with a great education. But then I think “Why do I want to be a adult, they do not care about human rights, about compassion, about forgiveness?” I wonder what God they pray to when they pray for the death of other people. I am trying my best to be strong, to keep praying, but I see so much love in some and so much hate in others. So many people listen to Your Holiness, and I know Your Holiness is very busy, but I am begging Your Holiness to call the Governor of Georgia and ask him to spare the life of my uncle, Troy Anthony Davis.
I am no lawyer, but having 7 out of 9 witnesses recanting their testimonies and a prosecutor waving them aside is upsetting. I am trying to understand the world we live in, and I am not sure I want to be a part of a world that is so bent on violence and vengeance while ate the same time praying to God. That is a scary world.
I love my Uncle Troy and this death sentence feels like a death sentence for me and my family and no matter how much I pray for strength, guidance and understanding, I am dying a little bit on the inside everyday. I wonder if people realize I am a victim in this too, or maybe they just don’t care.
Antone’ De’Jaun Correia
Other Letters to His Holiness
To His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
In a country such as the United States where the idea of justice is so highly held, how can the possibility of letting a potentially innocent man die by the hands of the government that promised justice and fairness so prominently to all of its citizens? Was that man not a citizen? I believe that this man has hope that the government he looks up to can save him if he is truly innocent. Although we do not fully know if he is innocent, why should we take a risk of executing an innocent man? Let’s put an end to both the Davis and MacPhail family suffering by ending this case the right way. If majority of the witnesses have recanted their statements, the case should be looked at again.
The United States of America stands for justice, and we have to demonstrate it, not just say it. For a country such as this, it is a shame if people are put to death for the wrong reason. Just one more reconsideration and a closer look at this case can save a life, and many others as well. How? Well, this case of how a man condemned to death for the wrong reasons and is saved, it can be an example of what could happen if cases are disregarded or taken lightly. We should punish the wrong, not the accused. So we must be the United States of America, the country people so highly regard. We have to stand for justice.
Tanya Su, 15
To His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI:
I am writing in support of Troy Davis, who has been convicted of murder and is sentenced to die on October 27. There have been new discoveries since Troy Davis’s case. Seven of nine witnesses have recanted their testimony, alleging police interference. This allegation seems all the more likely because the victim of the murder was a police officer. One of the witnesses against Davis was also a suspect in the case and was present during the shooting. To top it all off, there was no DNA and no murder weapon. The new evidence and the lack of supporting evidence makes the case seem doubtful at best.
I claim to be no legal expert; I’m only a sophomore in high school, and my limited knowledge of the legal system comes from years of political science classes. But it is hard to understand why our legal systems denied a man of the right to even present new evidence. I am not writing Your Holiness a letter to claim Troy Davis is innocent. I am no lawyer, so I can’t look at all the trial records and decide whether it was adequately proven he broke the law. I can’t look at his appeal and tell whether it’s legally valid, but I must ask Your Holiness to stop Troy Davis’s execution because the people who are legal experts and can judge the evidence have ignored him and shirked their responsibilities. He should be given a new trial or at least a hearing of the new evidence. Why are the courts afraid to hear the case? Are they afraid of the truth being heard in a courtroom? If the prosecutors are still so sure of Davis’s guilt, I would think they would welcome a new trial where they can prove it beyond a doubt. But I am not even asking Your Holiness to advocate for a grant Troy Davis a new hearing. That has already been denied by the Supreme Court, who for centuries had protected the people from unconstitutional laws and punishments. I merely ask Your Holiness this: work to spare the life of Troy Davis. Prevent his execution. If there is any chance that Georgia is going to kill an innocent man, why should we do it? Is this true justice?
William Horton, 15
Dear His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI,
As Your Holiness may know, a man named Troy Anthony Davis has been on death row for almost nineteen years. Why? The reason is simple. The courts cannot decide whether to execute him or not. There is absolutely no SOLID evidence against this man. His trial was based solely on nine eyewitnesses. Seven of the nine eyewitnesses who gave their testimonies recanted them, citing police intimidation tactics as their reasons for giving false testimonies. There is no physical evidence against Mr. Davis, nor is there any DNA evidence. Furthermore, the weapon of murder was never found. Even after having heard all these facts, the courts have still not given Mr. Davis a fair trial. Davis deserves an appeal at the very least as he has not been given due process. Davis was obviously unfairly incriminated for reasons that many, including the Your Holiness, former Republican Congressman Bob Barr (who is fiercely pro-death penalty), Amnesty International, President Jimmy Carter and many others including myself fail to understand to this day. Bob Barr, who is for the death penalty even says himself that in Davis’s case, the proper level of accuracy to execute someone has not been met. We do not know if Davis is innocent or guilty, but after reading the above I hope Your Holiness can understand that Davis at the very least deserves an appeal for a fair trial. Time is running out, and with only a few days left till Davis’s planned execution, action must be taken quickly
Nabil Saleem 15
Dear His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI,
I understand the amount of work Your Holiness is placed under and the amount of responsibility Your Holinesses has is unfathomable. However, there is a recent case that my friends and I have disagreed upon. It is a recent decision the Supreme Court of GA and the United States Supreme Court have made: The case of Troy Davis. This man was convicted of murder of a policeman and although we grieve for the policeman, Troy Davis is innocent. There is absolutely no evidence presented that can support this man’s conviction. If Your Holiness ask the Supreme Court for evidence of the murder, they can only give Your Holiness evidence that has now been show to be invalid.. My friends and I highly disagree with this decision. How could the state courts, sworn by the Constitution to not give unfaithful judgments do such a thing? Sentenced to death when there is absolutely no substantial evidence? There were no fingerprints, no blood marks, or DNA association linked back to Troy Davis. He is absolutely innocent.
The Georgia Supreme Court refused to hear this case on a 3:4 decision, and Your Holiness is the only one we can depend on to change this decision. I beg Your Holiness, as the leader of all Catholics, Your Holiness, to hold God’s law that He has given us. How can anyone give a death sentence for absolutely no reason? Many people around the world disagree with this decision. Even the European Parliament disagrees with the conviction of Troy Davis. Jesus would never sentence an innocent man to death. What happened to the fair trail concept? Troy Davis, think about him. He’s innocent and he is there, silent and convicted for nothing; and now he’s about to die because of simply living! Why? The unfair decision from this court reached global speculation: how unfair can this decision be if it reached students of America like us?
Please understand, that if there is good evidence of murder related to Troy Davis, his death execution will be accepted; albeit with reluctance. Your Holiness, do not let the murder happen of an innocent man. Please think of the impact it will have on the younger generation if Your Holiness completely ignore our pleas and woes of letting an innocent man die. It would lead to the loss of heart and trust in the elders and the government officials. No one would even trust America anymore, we would also lose US hegemony and soft power with Europe when they realize how unfair we are with cases. There is absolutely no substantial evidence. Absolutely none. What is the jurisdiction for the courts to execute an innocent man under no ground of evidence? It’s completely outrageous! My friends and I earnestly believe that Your Holiness would help us in our quest to save this innocent man: Troy Davis. We earnestly pray for him and I hope Your Holiness will join us. I hope that Your Holiness will help this younger generation of students to realize how blessed we are to have clothes, shelter, and family. While out there, there are starving families, unfairly treated people, torture ad terror. Please, please, I beg Your Holiness to stop the execution of Troy Davis. Fame is not what we want, we simply want to save an innocent man. I plead Your Holiness, that Your Holiness will help us. Stop this unfair decision. I believe in miracles, God will help us, please, under the name of God free him. We completely believe that Your Holiness will stop this. I beg Your Holiness. Please, help us realize the miracles of the world and make life worth living, keep our trust and faith. I pray that Your Holiness will be in good health, Your Holiness’s family, Your Holiness’s colleagues. I pray earnestly, for this world to realize the blessings we have that we take for granted. Help us, help the world. I love this world, I love God. Please, help an innocent man. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son...Let us take the stand, please take the stand and stop this unfair decision. I Thank Your Holiness for the time spent reading this letter, and be well. I believe in Troy Davis
(Kangkyu / David Lee) 15
His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI,
I write to Your Holiness, as do others, regarding the unfair execution of a potentially innocent man, Troy Davis in Georgia. As Your Holiness may already know, Troy Davis was accused of murdering a police officer in 1989, solely on the basis of witness account; no DNA or other physical evidence was found. Since then, seven of the nine witnesses recanted their evidence, stating that they had been intimidated by police tactics, and of the two remaining, one is another suspect in the case. As Your Holiness may see, there is certainly enough evidence to at least have a closer look at his case, if not prove his potential evidence. However, the Supreme Court has denied his appeal and he is set to be executed on October 27th. This is an outrage. With overwhelming evidence pointing to Troy Davis’s innocence, the ‘justice system’ still ignores his appeal and sentences him to death. Most of the global society would agree that the word ‘justice’ does not include the execution of innocent people. Why then, does this system persist in bringing death to an innocent person? What does it say about our sense of right and wrong if we take away the lives of the innocent and save the lives of the guilty? A law is always put in place to protect the lives of those that deserve it and punish those who have wronged. But this case is clear evidence of a terrible fact; our system is corrupt. Our ego guides us to profit only ourselves and, in effect, punish those who have committed no wrongs. This corruption must be fought if we are to correct the system. This case may be one in many but it is a small step, the next step we can take in the path of righteousness. Injustice cannot be fought by criticizing from the sidelines; one must take action. And it is for this reason that we raise our voices in protest to defend the life of Troy Davis, an innocent man. In respective roles, we may be nothing but small, insignificant specks of life, one among six billion. But if each one of us makes a stand, the effect is enormous, comprising an entity that could sway even the most drastic of decisions. We need all the help we can get. I humbly ask Your Holiness to support our defense of an innocent man caught in a web of corruption and injustice. Only a few days remain, but with Your Holiness’s help, we may be able to save the life of a man undeserving of punishment. We simply ask that Your Holiness may help us do what is right in a world full of wrong and, if nothing else, pray for the innocent soul of Troy Davis.
--Sanchit Malhotra, 15
To His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI:
I am a strong conservative in all of my political views and thus, I agree with the death penalty in certain cases. But, I believe, like everyone, the death penalty should only be used when the suspect is proven guilty. I know that whether or not one is pro- or anti- death penalty, we can all agree that an innocent or even potentially innocent person should not be put to death. There is not enough evidence to kill Troy Davis. What kind of evidence is it if 7 out of 9 witnesses recant their testimony and one of the ones that doesn’t is another suspect in the case? I feel execution for him is unfair not only because there is certainty not enough evidence, but also because of the things he has done since he was convicted. He has spent his time in jail teaching and urging kids to listen to their parents. He also teaches about making the right decisions in many letters he sends out to people around the country. What a good role model! One of his main subjects which he has talked about has been his religion. He is a strong Christian which helps him fight the mental battles of his execution. My friend went to meet him just a few days after the Supreme Court saved him 90 minutes before his execution. When asked if he was scared about the execution, Troy Davis responded, “I was not afraid, because God had lifted the burden of fear off my shoulders." My same friend later talked to me about his experience with Troy Davis saying, “When people talk about having life changing experiences, I now understand what they mean. I have never been so passionate about something in my life, and I have realized that it is the responsibility of those who watch injustice occur to stand up and fight against it.” Does Your Holiness see? Even if this man is guilty, does he deserve to die? He has made truly life changing experiences on people. Once again, there is not enough evidence to execute Troy Davis who is acting as living role model for society today.
I hope Your Holiness will help us in our cause,
Andrew Bates 15
“I refuse to be bitter or angry because I have faith in God, that he will soften the hearts my oppressors, to do what is right." – Troy Davis
Dear His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
My name is Delano Rodrigues, and I am writing about this injustice that is occurring the state that I live in. I may not be a writer or an A+ student but I feel like I need to step up and be mature. I joined the group on the social networking website Facebook called “Alpharetta High School for Troy Davis” and read everything about what happened in the case and the appeals that were denied. Many people wouldn’t even care about making or writing something about it, but as soon as I read the article I felt as if I had to write something. I feel that as everyone knows that Troy is indeed innocent, but the justice system has to blame someone for the death of their fallen trooper. And the reason that his appeals have been denied so many times is that the government knows that they can’t let a man go that has been said to kill a police officer, when clearly the information does not support this. I believe that Troy is indeed a very good man and the reason for this mistreatment is that he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Anyone who examines and looks at the clear evidence realizes that is shows Troy did not participate in ay of the wrongdoing that he allegedly committed. But worst of all is that the police got people to say that Troy committed that crime. But they then came forward and said actually what had happened. This is ridiculous. I just have to say that I would be sickened to turn on the news on October 27 and see that the state that I live in has killed an innocent man just in order to have someone to blame for the murder of a Savannah police officer.
I hope this letter will have an impact, because I feel that something should be done in the State of Georgia and the in United States.
Delano Rodrigues 15
To His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI:
The eighth amendment of the United States Constitution states that “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Administering the lethal injection to Troy Davis, a man nineteen years convicted with no firm standing evidence of a crime committed does not follow this imperative promise to the American people. I do not always disagree with the death penalty, but Troy Davis should not be put to death. There is not any firm proof that Troy Davis committed the murder of a police officer in Savannah. A human life is not something to be juggled around. The death penalty should never be administered when there is any doubt at all about the evidence in a case.
This nation has held strong for hundreds of years the promises of a quick and speedy trial and the promise to no cruel or unusual punishment. If the citizens of this great nation are not protected and if the government can not keep its most basic promises, then this country will truly fall apart. How could this great nation go against its most basic and most vital laws which have held this country together for hundreds of years? How is anyone to know if they will be the next person with the death penalty, saying now all it takes are nine witnesses who do not agree on the lawbreaker to be put to death? It does not matter what race Troy Davis is, he is still human, no different from me or Your Holiness. God sees us all in the same eye, and every man or woman is equally important to Him. A human life is not something easily forgotten, it is immensely important. The death penalty to a man convicted without firm evidence is completely outrageous.
Troy Davis is guaranteed the right to no cruel or unusual punishment by the United States Constitution. If the death penalty is not considered cruel and unusual, anyone would agree that there is no strong evidence that Troy Davis committed the murder. Without firm evidence, he is innocent until proven guilty. The Constitution also states that all Americans have to right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Is administering the death penalty to a man who has no clear evidence against him allowing him “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”?
Ninety minutes before his scheduled execution, a miracle occurred and his execution was postponed. This had to be the work of God, working for all of the people that he loves. Troy Davis was protected by God, but now it is time for the government to take the step of upholding its promises and giving Troy Davis a fair and speedy trial. If he can not be proven to be guilty, then he is innocent.
God Bless America and Troy Davis, and let him and the hundreds of others entangled in the American justice system be freed and treated like the Constitution promises. Give justice a chance, and allow Troy Davis to not be sentenced to death without feasible proof.
Michael Bates, 15
Innocence matters to me. Justice matters to everyone. God Bless America and may Troy Davis allowed justice.
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