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Guest views: We killed executed man

Anneliese McPhail’s son was killed in a Burger King parking lot in 1991. On Sept. 21, the state of Georgia finally killed the man who had been convicted of his murder.

They killed Troy Davis.

Or, rather, we did.

It doesn’t matter that Davis died in Jackson, Ga., while most of us were asleep. We killed him, because we are the state. We are the jurors and the voters who decided that death is the only answer to some crimes.

It doesn’t matter if we protested. We killed him, because we have not been strong enough, smart enough, resolute and loud and persistent and angry and humble enough.

So we killed Troy Davis, and we didn’t stay our hand despite the seven witnesses who recanted.

We convicted him when they testified that Davis was the man who smirked as he shot and killed off-duty police officer Mark McPhail.

When they said they could be mistaken, we said that we, like gods, could not.

Like gods, we carried the power of life and death lightly.

With it, we killed Troy Davis.

And with it, we freed Kenneth Kagonyera and Robert Wilcoxson III.

Kagonyera and Wilcoxson also were accused of murder. A Buncombe County court accepted their guilty pleas and sent them to prison for shooting and killing Walter Bowman on Sept. 18, 2000.

They pleaded guilty, the men said, because they wanted to avoid life in prison or the risk of the death penalty. In April, North Carolina’s Innocence Inquiry Commission asked a three-judge panel to look at the DNA, depositions from investigators and other evidence in the case.

On Sept. 22, those judges exonerated Kagonyera and Wilcoxson.

No, we did.

And this is how we know it’s working.

North Carolina may have the only innocence commission in the nation, but we prefer to think of it as the first.

We haven’t been persistent enough, but we are persisting.

We haven’t been angry enough, but every time we are forced to kill someone like Troy Davis, we are getting angrier.

We haven’t been humble enough, but every time we are forced to free someone like Kenneth Kagonyera and Robert Wilcoxson, we are learning humility.

— from The Herald-Sun of Durham

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