“You know quite a bit about your case.”

“Anything I forget could be harmful. I’ve helped my lawyers more than they’ve helped me in finding different legal strategies. I’m active in my case, unlike so many others back here. The average lawyer, even the average criminal lawyer, can’t handle a death penalty case. They need to know the details of twenty-five additional laws—they need to study the cases and know what motions to file and what to do. I have to be active on my case or I’m dead.”

“The legal options seem so limited. It’s just appeal after appeal and hoping one of them sticks.”

            “As long as the MacPhails want me dead, there’s not much my lawyers can do. They’ve been so brainwashed. Even Mark Jr., who was just an infant when this happened, is filled with rage and hatred. They’ve been brainwashed for so long . . . I don’t understand why they wouldn’t want to make sure there was no doubt that the right man was brought to justice for killing their family member.”

“But what could the MacPhails do? Wouldn’t it be up to the DA or the courts?”

“If the family of the victim wants you spared, the legal system looks upon you much more favorably. There was a guy here named Billy Moore. He was guilty, completely guilty, and even admitted it. He apologized to the victim’s family. They forgave him and helped him get his sentence reduced. He’s now a free man. He became a minister and now goes all round the world talking about his work to help Georgia’s death row inmates. But the truth is—pardon my language—he didn’t do shit. Guys here wrote to him, asking for help with lawyers, pen pals, anything, and he didn’t write a single letter back. Martina can tell you all about that. She’s been trying to contact him for years, and other inmates in here have been trying for decades to contact him. People think he’s an exoneree, but he just got a reduced sentence. Now he works with a woman named Murphy Davis, who doesn’t do nothing for death row inmates except write about them in some newsletter.”

“How many more like you are out there?”

“Who knows? Even victims misidentify their attackers. There are rape victims who were raped for forty minutes and looked at their rapist the whole time and still misidentified them. How can the courts or the Parole Board feel comfortable executing me when it’s clear they can never be one-hundred percent sure I did it? It’s sad you’ve got judges who’d rather hide behind the law rather than admit it’s wrong. And at my last hearing, Spencer Lawton, the Savannah DA, lied and talked about stuff they ain’t even had, and the Board bought it hook, line, and sinker, just like the jury in 1991.”

“The Supreme Court won’t even hear you out.”

“The US Supreme Court goes through the formality of accepting one or two cases a year just to deny them. They’re not going to openly state they don’t like overturning state or federal judges’ rulings. Instead they’ll deny the appeal. And it sends your lawyers scrambling and makes them feel like they’ve failed you. I think everything needs to be redone. The unethical prosecutors who send innocent people to jail need to step up and be held accountable.”

“How did all this affect you personally?”

“Emotionally it shook me up, but I never broke down. I wasn’t at peace, but I knew I could handle this if I adapted to the situation. When I first came to death row, the lieutenant saw me and said, ‘We haven’t had no fights or stabbings here in five years, so respect that. You better not get in trouble.’ I was like, ‘Why do you expect something from me? If nobody bothers me, I’m not going to bother them.’ Sometimes guards will tell me, ‘Davis, sometimes I forget about you and don’t even know who the hell you are. You’re so quiet. I don’t hear nothing about you, no complaints about you. You’re a model prisoner. You stay to yourself, do what you’re supposed to do, and mind your own business.’ I don’t go looking for trouble, because you never know what will happen.”

Previous: Part II, Section XIII

Next: Part II, Section XV

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