Troy Davis draws support from Brandon women in vigil

09/22/11 Janelle Irwin
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Troy Davis was murdered by the state of Georgia last night after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to halt the execution. WMNF's Janelle Irwin spoke with two of his local supporters last night at a prayer vigil in Brandon as Davis awaited the end of his 22-year-long battle for his life.

Seven of the nine eyewitnesses who helped convict Davis of the murder of an off-duty Savannah police officer have recanted their testimonies. No physical evidence linked Davis to the crime. Kate Noble learned about his case about nine months ago and said she felt compelled to reach out to the condemned man.

"I just told him that I learned of his case, and honestly I apologized. I apologized for being a citizen in this country who would be capable of doing this to him. And I told him that I'm praying for him and that, you know, we here at the youth group are praying for him. You know, what else can somebody say? He wrote back and we just shared information about our lives. I count him among my friends now."

Noble organized a prayer vigil at Nativity Catholic Church in Brandon to pray for Davis' life. She said in all of his letters it comforted her to know someone who, in the face of so many set-backs, still managed to be hopeful.

"You know, even everything I've heard from his family and from his amnesty international supporters or NAACP supporters, I've never heard him say anything negative other than, well, it wasn't even negative. In one of his letters he explained that he was being allowed to have, I don't know, 100 letters a week. At one point it had dropped down to three. And he thought that that was perhaps because he was getting too much publicity."

Noble sat with her daughter in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary and prayed as 7 o'clock passed, the time Davis was set to be killed by lethal injection. She looked up with tearful eyes and told other supporters that it was OK because he was in a better place now. As she said that, word came in that Davis had been granted a temporary reprieve. She said she would continue to pray until a final action was carried out and that it was in Davis' own words she found hope rather than anger.

"She handed me the mail and in it was a letter from him. And you know, it was dated the 16th. And he was more concerned about everyone else staying strong. He thanked me and said he was honored to have people supporting him around the world. And he told me to keep leaning on God, but that he was going to be ok because he's already given it to God."

Troy Davis' case has drawn support from people all over the world including Pope Benedict XVI and former president Jimmy Carter. Davis was convicted of killing officer Mark MacPhail in 1989. MacPhail's wife and family have pushed for Davis' execution, despite evidence that another man committed the murder. Noble said there are two families grieving right now and hopes other people don't lose sight of that fact.

"I would never take away from the grief and the suffering that the slain officer and his family went through, are going through. But from both sides the most anger I've heard is from them. And I understand that they've lost a loved one, but it seems like they're angry that we want to save a life as opposed to take a life."

Many members of the Catholic Church oppose the death penalty. Another Davis supporter, Clarissa Carruthers, didn't know Noble before the vigil. But Carruthers told her she is happy to find another person holding the sanctity of life dear.

"I'm very pro-life, but pro-life abortion is not the only pro-life issue. It's from conception to death, to natural death."

Both Noble and Carruthers said they will continue to pray for Davis. Noble wore a shirt with the words "I am Troy Davis" written on it -- a statement that has come to represent the campaign to save him. Noble said she's been wearing the shirt for a week.

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