Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cast Your Vote in the Case of Georgia v. Troy Anthony Davis

Assuming you have read the posts and comments herein, or have otherwise educated yourself about the case, how would you as a juror cast your vote in the case of Troy Anthony Davis?

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40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not guilty.

J

Anonymous said...

Oooooh, a poll! What a great idea. How about this: you present the summaries of the evidence, but before sharing your conclusion you make a poll. Then a few days later, you give your final analysis, and then do a second poll. Then finally, you show the results of BOTH polls, which lets you see how much your analysis has changed minds. Just a thought.

Thanks for a great blog.

---Will

tsj said...

Will,
Interesting idea. I might give it a try.

R Lee said...

A NOT SO SUCCINCT EXPLANATION FOR A GUILTY VERDICT

If you read 'A SUCCINCT EXPLANATION FOR A GUILTY VERDICT' in the comments section of TSJ's post on Sept. 25th, or within his post of the 26th, you got the relatively short version of my determination of guilt in the Davis case. TSJ took advantage of my succinctness, and ripped into my piece, which I rebutted somewhat with a comment on his post of the 26th. There I also promised to submit my longer explanation, which is contained here. But, it will also be supported by an even longer revelation of the events which tie together or explain away virtually every piece of evidence offered on this case. I will post the latter in two parts.

Before reading this longer version, here are two short paragraphs as a foreword:

Had I been on the trial jury I would have insisted upon querying the witnesses myself, else I would not have voted either way, or rather I would have voted strategically a 'not guilty' vote, not in pursuit of a 'not guilty' verdict, but to assure a hung jury and retrial, in hopes that a better job of discovery would be done before the next trial.

At this juncture, we have more to go on, and in many respects what we still don't know is as telling as what we do know. And, given all of this additional information and given the private time to think, which jurors often do not have, and given ample time to think, again a requirement that is often not afforded under the circumstances which a jury must operate, I believe I could vote to convict Mr. Davis. However, without having a few other items, still in question, answered, I could not vote for the death penalty in this case. I now believe that this latter outcome is exactly what Davis' attorneys were after from day one.

Now, The Longer Explanation:

Human (animal) memory could be well described as fickle. The storage of information in our brains is in part governed by association. Simplifying it, abstract data is less recordable than visual data, given the same amount of exposure time. And static data is less recordable than dynamic data, again given the same amount of exposure.

Dynamic visual data is chiefly movement. But movements are not solely detected with sight. They are as well perceived through our other senses. If you are in a room with a skunk, but you cannot see the skunk, and you suddenly smell a horrific odor, you record that the skunk made use of its natural defense mechanism.

If you are blind and are seated on a ferris-wheel, you can detect whether or not the ferris-wheel is turning and a relative speed of movement.

Thus, you are much more likely to remember the act of a car pulling out in front of your moving car, causing you to brake hard and barely stopping before a collision, and the stunning jolt you then felt when the car driving behind you slams into the rear of your car, than you would recall the color of the car causing you to brake, even if you were at the crash site for several minutes afterward.

Again, simply put, movements create multiple packets of data strung together which make their presence in memory more easily retrievable than other recordable information.

Thus, all we need to do is follow the movements. There are really only two movements, other than the actual shooting of McPhail, to consider.

The first movement is that of a person who was verbally accosting Young, which was visually and audibly recorded to memory.

The second movement is that of a person who hit Young on the side of his face with a gun, recorded visually by witnesses and physically (through the somatosensory system) by Young.

Before trying to identify 'who' or 'whom' performed those movements, we'll look at their connection with the shooting of McPhail.

[continued on next comment]

R Lee said...

[continued from previous comment]

There has been no testimony at any time, pre-trial or post-trial, outside of Davis' account, that the person who performed the first movement was the person who shot McPhail.

However, connecting the person who performed the second movement, that of hitting Young, to the person who shot McPhail has three untainted eye witness accounts supporting it.

[the following excerpts are from Judge Moore's ruling]

Murray (statement immediately after shooting):

" . . armed individual struck Mr. Young in the head with what Ms. Murray believed was the butt of the weapon."

" . . the individual with the firearm turned and aimed the weapon at the officer."

"As the officer reached for his gun, the individual shot him in the face."

Williams (statement immediately after shooting):

" . . one of the individuals ran up and slapped the man being followed in the head with a gun."

"The two unarmed individuals were already running away, and the individual with the gun was trying to stick it back in his pants."

" . . the assailant appeared to panic as the officer was approaching and he was unable to conceal the gun."

"When the officer closed to within approximately fifteen feet, the assailant turned and shot the officer."

Grizzard (statement immediately after shooting):

" . . saw one man hit another on the side of his face."

[Grizzard then looks at Young in front of van]

"Looking back toward the parking lot, Mr. Grizzard observed a police officer with a baton moving toward the assailant. As the officer moved in on the assailant, the assailant fired as many as four shots at the officer."

Sanders had somewhat similar testimony to Grizzard, except that he did not see the first shot fired at McPhail.

If I were the defense attorney, I would put in the minds of the jury (in this case, you) that Ms. Murray looked away after her boy friend was hit, as he ran to get help, and thus her testimony, as is, cannot assure us that the person who hit Young with a gun was the same person who seconds later held a gun in their hand as the officer approached.

I would suggest to the jury that each suspect may have had a gun and, in fact, Coles admitted to owning and possessing a gun that night, and yet never produced the gun so that its ballistic markings could be tested.

As well, I would note that Mr. Grizzard's (and Sanders) observation of the suspects was interrupted as he was distracted momentarily by Young's rush to the van and drive-thru window where he yelled and banged on windows. Again, the suspect who had not hit Young could just as well have pulled out a gun as the officer approached.

However, it would take some magic to convince me that Mr. Williams, who had a good, close and uninterrupted view of the event (as culled from his testimony), could not differentiate between the suspects in those few moments.

Williams testimony, without there being an iota of testimony to even suggest it to be suspect, tells us that the person who hit Young is also the person who shot McPhail.

The ONLY thing that would invalidate this connection, is if it could be believed that both suspects hit Young, and yet, no testimony by eye witnesses, or the suspects themselves hint at that occurrence.

Thus, the killer can be identified as the person who hit Young in the side of the head.

Although, we have no evidence (testimony) indicating that the person who performed the first movement, that of verbally accosting Young, is also the same person who shot McPhail, there is nothing yet which differentiates this person and the person who performed the second movement, that of hitting Young with a gun.

Williams testimony, as valuable and critical as it is, does not complete our task, for he does not indicate that the person who hit Young and shot McPhail is the same person who was verbally accosting (arguing with) Young.

[continued on next comment]

R Lee said...

[continued from previous comment]

Enter Young's testimony. While even an average attorney could easily contest Young's testimony as to facial identification, a good attorney could as well make his testimony as to who was wearing a yellow shirt and who was wearing a white shirt ineffective. Young is the only one on the night of the shooting who 'supposedly' stated that is saw a yellow shirt. Given, that Young was obviously drinking that night, how can he be sure, if there even was a yellow shirt, who was wearing it?

But, another piece of magic would need to occur to convince me that Young had any confusion as to knowing the position of the person he was arguing with and the direction from which the hit occurred. Mr. Young had been verbally accosted by a person for two blocks, while he had not detected any communication from another party, even though he was aware of their presence.

Young (statement given after shooting):

"Mr. Young . . resumed arguing with the individual . . [then] he was hit in the head by a second person."

As Young mentioned in his post-trial affidavit, he had been drinking that day and under a lot of stress during his time at the police headquarters during his questioning.

I don't think that Mr. Young, even if intoxicated, would have trouble identifying that the person in front of him, the same person who had been accosting him verbally for several minutes, was not the person who blindsided him with the butt of a gun to the side of his face. He may not have been able to remember his face, he may not have been able to remember the color of the shirt he was wearing, but the memory of the verbal assault is not easily erased or confused.

The only piece of testimony Mr. Young was certain of, come trial time, was that the person he argued with was not the person who hit him. He stated then that "the person who struck him was definitely not the man . . he had been arguing with."

For this piece of testimony to not be credible in my opinion, I will have to read/hear much more logical reasoning than anything that have read/heard so far. If in fact Davis' version of the incident, which is that Young turned toward him and then Coles hit Young, is the truth, then there would have been more evidence presented to make that case, or there certainly should have been.

If the Davis account is/was true, the defense, by reconstructing the positions of the three principles, noting the right side of Young's face was hit, where Cole would have been standing relative to Young, and the hand in which Cole would have had the gun, all in conjunction with what the eye witnesses recalled, should have been able to make a credible case to show that it could not have been Davis who hit Young.

But they did not (of course I know Georgia attorneys are pathetic; I live here) do it then, and no one has done it since, and maybe for good reason.

[continued on next comment]

R Lee said...

[continued from previous comment]

Lastly, Davis' own testimony makes the final link. He acknowledges that he and Coles are the only two suspects who could have hit Young, and then he confirms that Coles was the only one of the two of them who was verbally accosting Young. By simple process of elimination, that makes him the person who hit Young with a gun.

And thus, without any need for face identification, without any need for figuring out who was wearing what shirt, and which shirt colored figure did what, we know that Davis hit Young and then shot McPhail.

Even, Darrell Collins, admitted friend of Davis, could not go so far as to say he saw Coles hit Young in his recantation. And only, very, very belatedly, now denies seeing Davis hit Young. If we are to give any serious credibility to Collins reversal on that point then I would insist that he be charged and convicted of perjury for lying at trial in 1991, wouldn't you?

If you read the trial testimony by Collins, he clearly defies the police, even accuses them on the stand of coercion and harassment, as he sets straight the testimony concerning Davis and the shooting at the Cloverdale party, but he sticks with his assertion that Davis hit Young at the Burger King. The only other explanation for that would be threats from elsewhere, but if so, it is now twenty years since the trial (Collins is 38 years old), would Collins not have the courage to say who, besides the police, would have coerced his false testimony?

The Whole Story, coming soon, will provide further reasoning to support the guilty verdict, and it will help explain much of the confusion rendered by the testimony in this case.

-Rlee

Anonymous said...

Do you consider this "Animal memory", to be enough to hang someone R.Lee?

I've been reading the court testimonies (mostly just the court testimonies of the main witnesses as they presumably had to stand up and say things, rather than just sign whatever the police put in front of them) here: http://www.gasd.uscourts.gov/pdf/409cv00130_92part1.pdf (I think someone was looking for them earlier?)

In relation to your views: What about Williams' "one of the three men ran in front of the lone individual and struck him with a gun ", "the individual who was assaulted was struck on the left side of his head"? It seems contradictory given your "physical memory" argument that he saw everything inverted - and him with the most unobstructed view. Young's testimony is almost this in reverse!

What I genuinely don't understand about Young is that he doesn't initially appear to be especially afraid of Coles and yet his friends took flight. This suggests quite a high level of intoxication. I imagine the blow to the head was a bit of a wake-up call as much as anything; an awareness of his vulnerability when totally sozzled.

Mr Grizzard's testimony was considerably different from everybody else's because no one else mentions anyone falling over. Is this because his is the only accurate one? He actually only seems to indicate one other person other than Young. And everyone seems to have been moving much faster. There is no mention of these two following behind whatsoever. "While he was still at the window, Mr. Grizzard again saw
the man who had been chasing the individual. This time, Mr. Grizzard saw him strike another man in the head. The individual who had been struck staggered toward the van's driver's side window, asking for someone to call the police.
Next, Mr. Grizzard observed a police officer running toward the assailant. As the officer approached, the individual aimed a weapon at the officer and fired one shot." This seems such a dramatically difference sequence of events. I'm struggling to see how he could have ended up as a prosecution witness at all? He doesn't seem to implicate Davis except in terms of clothing, which I'm not bothering with because it was too dark & late.
contd............

Anonymous said...

Another thing that niggles me in terms of your notion of physical memory is the testimony of Eric Riggins: "Mr. Riggins recalls that the gunman never completely stopped running to fire the shots" This again seems to suggest a different feel, a different vibe to that described by other witnesses, in fact more similar to Grizzard's than the others.

Other problems I have with the case: Coles "testified that he neither threatened to shoot anyone nor heard Mr. Davis speak to the man with the beer" so why did the vagrants run away? Then there's that returning to scene of crime business Coles did. Davis ran off, scared witless. Returning to the scene is a big psychological acknowledgement of guilt. And you're right R Lee, that if he was so cool & honest about having a gun, why didn't he bother to retrieve it & hand it in to clear any possible suspicion? Again the actions of a guilty man.

"Mr. Sanders could identify neither the individual that was struck in the
head nor the object used to strike him." He obviously wasn't paying much attention? It gives an indication of how dark it was.

Further quibbles with your reasoning :Murray talks about the trigger being pulled but the gun not going off. Either she was lying through her teeth or paying close attention. If you consider her a liar, you should discount her entire testimony.

I am also struggling with the part of her second statement where she says "the individual in a yellow shirt who grabbed Mr. Young's arm, causing Mr. Young to turn around." as it seems no one notices physical contact between them? Perhaps this is the "stumble" Grizzard refers to? Perhaps this is why Williams' statement was back to front?

The main problem I have is that old fashioned notion of motive. I can understand someone thus inclined to hit someone if you were trading insults as Coles suggests he and Young were doing. But hitting a stranger on the head with a gun for fun? Really? And then shooting a police officer, too? It's very psychopathic behaviour. Over here that would probably be enough to get you a psychiatric evaluation. do we know if Davis had one?

Also, what about the testimonies Quiana Glover & Benjamin Gordon and others? Why are their testimonies less credible? Both knew Coles & say he definitely did it & goes against their personal interests to claim that.

I still believe in Davis' innocence, insofar as nobody has yet persuaded me of his guilt.

An English Observer.

tsj said...

English Observer offers some original thoughts from across the pond. I appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Indeed! English Observer is pointing out several contradictions. I tried to figure out from the various statements if Young was hit from behind or or from the front. He seemed to have turned to face the person he was arguing with. In that case, would he not be facing all three men? Or did one of them run in front of him? How does a juror make any sense out of these confusing accounts?
AnonXYZ

Anonymous said...

Let me mention some asymmetrical items in this case that the defendant had to face.

The majority black jury knew that the white police officer gunned down was actually risking his own life to help a poor homeless black man. They could not sympathize with the accused hoodlum even though he was black. It is even possible that because the hoodlum was a black man, they probably felt a burden to be assertive or they might be looked upon as racially biased. Thus the jurors might not have had the “urge” or “incentive” or an open mind to question the validity of the evidence or the argument from the state.

The asymmetry arises in that, what if instead of the police officer, it was the homeless man who died? Would this case have received this level of scrutiny, one way or the other, from all sides? Just a curious thought.

The second group of asymmetry arises from the fact that for the jury to find the accused guilty, the proof needed to be beyond reasonable doubt. However, once convicted, the person had to meet a much stricter standard to show his (or her) innocence. Also, the guilty verdict is rendered by the jury made up of ordinary citizens; however, the argument for reversal is heard by legal professionals, who as one part of their assessment had to put themselves in the shoes of the jurors to asses if the jurors would have changed their minds with the new information or argument. The jurors didn’t get to hear the case again.

Finally, the defending side was poorly matched against the state’s powerful team at the trial. Furthermore, at the hearing before Judge Moore, even the judge pointed out that the defendant’s attorneys wasted the opportunities to make a strong case for Davis by not calling some of the witnesses to the stand.

I wonder if something like this blog were pursuing this case before the hearing by Judge Moore took place, it would have helped Davis’s side to take advantage of all the discrepancies in the case! Just another thought!

AnonXYZ

Anonymous said...

Well reasoned RLee, but not beyond a reasonable doubt. Here's my take:

We accept, because there is no evidence to the contrary, that the shooter was either Davis or Coles. RLee has made a persuasive case for Coles, but I don't buy it primarily because I don't find Coles' testimony credible. My biggest stumbling block in all of this is Coles' testimony that McPhail ran past him. Trained police officers do not "run past" suspects. I just don't buy that at all. Either Coles is lying, or McPhail never actually identified Coles as a suspect. That's unlikely given that they were all together as a group and by Coles' own admission, McPhail was yelling at both he and Davis.

I also reject the idea that McPhail just focused on the armed individual. McPhail was crossing an open parking lot, he never attempted to find cover, and he never drew his own gun, never even unsnapped it from its holster. The only conclusion is that McPhail never saw the gun.

Consider the testimony regarding who fled the scene and how. It's unchallenged that Collins was the last to arrive and the first to leave. Ellison testified that as he left the pool hall, he heard the gun shots and then Collins arrived and they all got in the car and left. Neither Davis nor Coles was there yet or I assume they would have gotten in the car as well. That's all consistent with witness testimony that the third man stayed in the background, and most of the witnesses saw only two men fleeing after the shooting. So taking Collins out of the mix, everyone agrees that Davis and Coles were the last two suspects on the scene and one of them is the shooter.

Hughes and Riggins and Sanders all saw a second man, dressed in black or dark clothes, running away from the scene. Sanders claims he trailed the shooter. The others say he was closer to the Bank - beyond the shooter. They do not mention seeing the third man flee.

If the last two to leave the scene were Davis and Coles and one of them was the shooter in the white shirt, then the other must have been dressed in black or dark clothing. Coles claims he was wearing a "yellow" shirt. As I've previously argued, I don't think there was a "yellow" shirt at the scene, I think yellow and white got very confused in Young's mind. If Coles wasn't in black, and by his own admission, he was not, then he must be the shooter, and the "yellow" shirt was actually white.

It's worth noting Ferrell's testimony. She made three statements regarding who shot and who fled. The night of the murder she said "While two of the individuals fled, one reached into his shorts, produced a firearm, and shot the officer." Two left before the shooting. That's consistent.

At the probable cause hearing, she said "One of the men continued to run (Collins). The second turned and stopped (allegedly Coles). The third man was walking backwards, away from the officer, when he fired a gun at the officer (allegedly Davis)." Now only one man ran. Then at trial, she changed her story again:

"As the officer approached, one of the men, who was wearing a light yellow t-shirt, started moving backwards. Then the third man, who was wearing a white t-shirt and dark shorts, shot the officer." Now it is the person in yellow who backs away, not the shooter. How convenient.

Compare that with Williams who also saw all three suspects leave the scene. Both in his initial statement and at trial he claimed that as McPhail ran forward, the other two suspects were already running away and the shooter was trying to hide the weapon in his waistline. Neither Williams, nor any of the AF guys ever mentions a yellow, or even a second light colored shirt - not during the altercation, and not in the aftermath.

J

Anonymous said...

(cont.)

RLee says there is no evidence outside of Davis' account that the person who argued with Young was also the assailant/shooter. That's technically true. However, other than Young, Murray was the only witness to events leading up to the assault, and she's not credible on that.

Neither Murray's original statement nor her recantation affidavit clearly distinguish between the arguer and the assailant, and her first statement does not mention "yellow." It's not until she testifies that she distinguishes between the person who argued with Young and the assailant/shooter, and she does so on the basis of shirt color, i.e., the arguer was in yellow, the assailant/shooter was in white.

By her own admission at trial, Murray left her vantage point, along with the two guys who were sitting with her, as soon as the threat to shoot Young was made. Young corroborates this when he states that he noticed all three of them flee as he entered the parking lot. Murray testified that she went up to the front door of the Burger King to find help. She found the door locked and then she returned her attention to events in the parking lot. At a minimum, her attention was diverted during the assault, and I question her testimony about what happened after the threat to shoot Young and before the shooting actually occurred.

We don't need Williams to establish that the same person who assaulted Young also shot McPhail. Grizzard also does that.

Grizzard testified that he saw one man chasing another toward the building, that the man in front tripped and fell, and the one chasing then "veered off" away from the building. Then he identifies the chaser as the same person who then assaulted Young. Nobody else sees anyone trip and fall. I think Grizzard must have seen one of Murray's companions fleeing as a result of the threat to shoot Young, and that it was he who stumbled and fell. Nobody was actually chasing him, that was just the association Grizzard made because the guy fell as the assailant/shooter advanced on Young.

Williams gave three consistent statements. The night of the murder he said that one of the three "ran up" to Young and slapped him in the head with a gun; at trial he testified that one of the three men "ran in front of" the lone individual and struck him with a gun.

Grizzard says that the assailant ran toward the building then "veered off" away from the building. When he looked in the direction the assailant ran, Grizzard saw him hit Young in the side of the face. In other words, Grizzard saw the same movement that Williams saw, i.e., he saw the assailant run in front of Young.

Grizzard identifies the man who made that movement as both the assailant and the shooter.
The only person ever placed in front of Young is the man he was arguing with, the man in the yellow shirt, i.e., Coles.

J

Anonymous said...

(cont. some more)

What about Williams' testimony that Young was hit in the left side of the head? Maybe Williams meant left from his perspective. If Young were facing him, the right side of Young's head would be on Williams' left.

Movement generally was across the parking lot toward the drive-thru. Williams testified that he parked his car facing the drive-thru. Spatially, Williams was on the opposite side of the action from all other witnesses. The group was moving toward the drive-thru on Williams' right side and McPhail came from the opposite direction, from behind the building. The assault occurred as the group moved between Williams' car and the drive-thru. Young, like Williams, was facing the drive-thru as he entered the parking lot. Williams' testimony only makes sense if Young turned to his left to face in Williams' direction. If Young did turn to his left, he opened his right side to a blind attack by whomever was standing either in front of him, or to his right.

Young himself never claims that he turned - only that he stayed focused on the man in the yellow shirt in front of him. Murray, in her second statement, claims that the man in yellow grabbed Young's arm forcing him to turn to the left. Coles never claims that he grabbed Young's arm or that Young turned toward him, he only claims that they were face-to-face. Davis, however, claims that Young turned to face him. If Davis was on Young's left, the turn would leave Coles on Young's right side. Remember that Davis and Collins took the route behind the Bank. They would have approached Young and Coles, not from Young's right side which was closer to Oglethorpe Avenue, but from Young's left side, from the rear of the Bank building.

So what about RLee's conviction that Young would know whether or not he was hit by the same man he argued with? Let's not forget that Young was not only drunk, but got his head bashed in. It was a rather serious gash, according to the AF guy.

Young turned to face Williams' direction when he turned to seek help from Davis. From Young's perspective the attack does come from behind and from the right, but it comes from Coles, not Davis. Young sees stars. He forgets the last thing he did before he got popped. He forgets that he turned in response to Davis. I think this is a rather common result of getting bashed in the head. He doesn't remember turning away from Coles so he assumes that Coles was still in front of him and couldn't have hit him from behind. That's why he's so sure that the guy he argued with was not the guy that hit him. Davis' face, the face Young was looking at when he was hit, was visually imprinted in his memory - so Young first identifies Davis as the man he argued with. It is only after he saw Coles at the police station that he remembered Coles was the man he argued with. Since he still recognized Davis' face, and since he believed that the man he argued with was not the man who hit him, he assumed that Davis must be the man who hit him. I think he assumed wrong.

OK, I'm done now. ;)

J

MEF said...

As I read through all of the comments left by the readers of the site and sift through my own recollections and thoughts on this case, I come to two distinct conclusions. (1) This case highlights why we shouldn't have a death penalty and (2) Troy Davis was guilty of murdering Officer MacPhail.

To the first point; if you can have a murder case with literally a half dozen eye witnesses to the crime and not be able to assign blame with 100% certainty then there shouldn't be a death penalty. It's a slippery slope. Do you need video evidence of the crime taking place? What if it is blurry? At the end of the day, there is always the possibility of getting it wrong and for that reason we shouldn't have a death penalty because of the finality of the punishment. You can't put the tooth paste back in the tube no matter what comes out after the fact and what could be a bigger miscarriage of justice then the state sponsored murder of an innocent man?

With respect to the second point, I believe the Anonymous poster as well as English Observer are missing the forest for the trees. Sure each of these eye witness statements leave us scratching our heads with respect to minor details that night because they seem to contradict themselves on the surface. Was the shooter running while he was firing or did he turn, stop and fire? Did he attempt an unsuccessful first shot before firing several rounds into MacPhail? These inconsistencies exist and for good reason; there are three sides to every story. My side, your side and the truth. A juror's job is not assess the believability of a witness and either accept or dismiss all of their testimony. It is deeper then that...it is to assess the witness and determine which portions of the testimony are believable, MAYBE that includes all or none. You have to look at the entirety of the testimony and facts to determine the most reasonable version of events as can be believed by somebody who has been given ALL the evidence. Take Coles' testimony that he stopped while MacPhail ran past him after Davis. Does this add up given what we know about police procedure and eye witness testimony? Not really. But there are a plethora of reasons for Coles to tell the story in this way less then 24 hours after the incident and none of them immediately impeach his testimony as being wholly untruthful or implicit of his own guilt.

My point is simple...if you look for tiny faults and cracks on the tallest buildings in the world you will find them but that doesn't mean that the building is not sturdy. You need to take all evidence into account and make a judgement based on that evidence in its totality. I think R Lee makes a compelling argument for guilt in his piece. I think when you add that up with the evidence from the Cloverdale shooting, the case is pretty tightly shut on Troy Davis. If I had my way he'd be singing his cries of innocence from a jail cell though because we'll just never know...

Anonymous said...

I was following the larger point MEF was making, but towards the end he said, “I think when you add that up with the evidence from the Cloverdale shooting, the case is pretty tightly shut on Troy Davis,” and I lost him.

Let me explain.

After I raised the issue of the odd way of finding a single bullet casing near the BK parking lot, I read the court documents and realized that the casing was not used to prove the McPhail shooting. The casing was used to prove that the same gun that was used in the McPhail shooting could have been used in the Cloverdale shooting and therefore the gunman responsible for the McPhail shooting was also responsible for the Cloverdale shooting. Since nobody challenged the conviction at the Cloverdale shooting, the casing issue was not important. Still, the reasoning was that whoever did the McPhail shooting also did the Cloverdale shooting and not the other way round. You can see it Judge Moore’s writing.

Now, MEF tells us that the Cloverdale shooting proves the guilt at the McPhail shooting. I agree that looking at tiny cracks in a tall building may be a futile exercise, but so is visualizing a tall building that does not exist. Also, when a series of tiny cracks line up and point out to a possible attempt to "build" a case, those cracks should not be ignored.

AnonXYZ

R Lee said...

Thank you, MEF. Your comment about the forest and the trees had me saying . . 'YES'. You capsulized all of my criticisms on so much of the counter arguments I've read.

Actually, that you brought up the Cloverdale shooting in your next to last line is a good lead in to the first part of my attempt to present the Full Story of that night. And the Cloverdale shooting is intricate to explaining much of what went forth in the after math of the MacPhail shooting.

But, first, Part 1, which takes us up to 01:08am on August 19, 1989 in Savannah.

R Lee said...

August 18, 1989

10:00 pm

Troy Davis leaves his house on Sylvester Dr. in the Cloverdale neighborhood of Savannah, and starts walking to a party only a few blocks away. He is wearing a pink and purple Polo shirt. Eric Ellison and Darrell Collins, driving to the same party, stop to pick up Troy.

The ‘pool’ party, at 1528 Cloverdale Dr., is hosted by some teenaged cousins, including Tonya Johnson and April Hester. Tonya lives in Yamacraw Village with her mother, and April lives in Cloverdale, while her mother lives in Yamacraw Village. The Yamacraw neighborhood is adjacent to the city’s business center.

On arriving, Ellison, Collins and Davis go to the back of the house, to the pool, where they socialize with other party guests.

Nearing 10:30 pm, Davis heads to the front of the house, around this same time a car load of five boys arrive from the Yamacraw neighborhood. Wilds, Blige, Cooper, Brown and Gordon initially spend time in the back of the house by the pool, but over the course of the next hour they also spend time in the front yard of the house, by the street, where some heated verbal exchanges are occurring between two groups of attendees, including some of the Wilds’ group.

Shortly after 11:00 pm, Ellison and Collins move to the front of the house where they spend some time speaking with girls. Davis leaves with someone, in a truck. Davis goes to his house, nearby, and changes out of his Polo shirt and into a white t-shirt, which has some writing on the front. He also grabs his short barreled handgun and tucks it into his shorts.

Davis returns to the party in the same truck, being gone only a few minutes. Ellison and Collins are still in the front yard as Davis returns. Some of the people involved in the verbal fights had moved two houses down near some shrubs, which divided that lot from the corner lot.

Included in the group by the shrubs are Sylvester Coles and a friend of his named Terry, neither of who are from Cloverdale or Yamacraw. Coles wears a light colored, yellowish t-shirt and Terry, quite possibly, is wearing a white batman t-shirt and a black hat. Coles is carrying his .38 caliber handgun, and Terry has a handgun of another caliber.

Wilds and his friends walk toward the other end of the street to his parked car. Davis begins walking toward the corner to hang out with Coles, among others. The Wilds’ car then passes the party house on the way out of the neighborhood with Blige and Young in the right side seats, leaning out the windows and yelling.

As the car is about to make the right turn at the corner, Coles and Terry fire their guns across the corner lot at the Wilds car. It is 11:28pm. Several bullets hit the car and Cooper, in the front passenger seat is hit in his right jaw; Wilds drives to hospital.

Cooper, at the hospital identifies a shooter as wearing a white batman t-shirt and black cap. Bullet holes and bullets found in Wilds’ car indicate more than one caliber of gun was fired at the car. One of the occupants stated that the shots came too close together for it to have been just one revolver.

The shots startle everyone, neighbors call the SPD. Coles and Terry leave the area; Coles and Terry head to Charlie Brown's Pool Room. Just minutes later, Ellison and Collins walk to Ellison's car which is parked near the same corner where the shots were fired. Davis walks up and asks for a ride to Charlie Brown's Pool Room.

Ellison, with Collins and Davis, drives back to his nearby house, they then leave for the Yamacraw neighborhood, but quickly come across Jeffery Sams, Davis’ neighbor, who had been at the party earlier, drove his car home and was then returning on foot. Sams decides to join the threesome, and they pass the party house on the way out of the neighborhood.

While riding to the pool room, they talk about the shooting in Cloverdale. If Davis knew at that time who fired the shots, he likely did not reveal it to the others.

[continued on next comment]

R Lee said...

[continued from previous comment]

12:00 Midnight

The Ellison car arrives at the Time-Saver gas-station/convenience-store on Oglethorpe Ave. The store is on the western end of a very small strip retail center, with a pool room, Charlie Browns, just a few doors away on the other end. Ellison puts gas in his car and others visit the store. Davis walks to pool room and joins Coles who is standing out front.

Ellison, Collins and Sams go into pool room while Davis and Coles talk outside. Shortly, Sams heads back to Ellison's car to listen to music [According to Sams' police report he said that he saw Coles 'in' the pool room, but he may have said 'at' and the investigator wrote it up as 'in']. By this time, Davis knows Coles fired the shots in Cloverdale.

Collins comes outside to join Davis and Coles. A few minutes later, Coles decides to go into the pool room. With his friend’s truck locked and Ellison’s car close by and with Sams in the back seat, he drops his gun on the front passenger seat of Ellison's car.

Coles and Davis go into pool room. Collins having seen Coles put the gun in Ellison’s car takes the gun and puts it in some bushes on the side of pool room building, and soon thereafter tells Coles he has moved the gun to the bushes.

01:00 am

Collins, Coles and Davis are back out in front of the pool room. Sams is now asleep in the car and Ellison and ‘Terry’ are still inside shooting pool. Larry Young is in the adjacent convenience store buying cigarettes and beer. Tonya Johnson is just arriving home in Yamacraw Village from the party in Cloverdale.

Young leaves the store and walks across the common parking area of the strip center to the side walk. Coles eyes him and runs over to him asking for a beer. Young refuses and continues walking. Coles follows along insisting on being given some beer.

By the time Coles and Young are on the sidewalk bordering the Trust Company Bank lot, Davis decides to join the pursuit, and Collins follows him. Davis uses a slight short cut, by going through the fence between the strip center parking lot and the bank parking area, then diagonally across the bank parking lot to the side walk along Oglethorpe Ave.

Young notices the other two coming through the fence and then in his direction. Davis, with Collins close behind, has almost caught up with Coles and Young as they cross Fahm Street (Fahm is between the bank and the bus terminal lot which includes the Burger King on the near end).

Young continues walking, and Coles continues verbally badgering him. Coles gets annoyed as they move into the Burger King parking lot; he threatens Young with, “Don’t walk away from me. You don’t know me, I’ll shoot you.” Coles reaches in his pants as if to pull out a gun, but Young does not understand what Coles has just said, nor does he see Coles' fake ploy, however three other people in the parking lot do, including Harriett Murray. Two men sitting with her flee the parking lot upon hearing the verbal threat and seeing the gesture by Coles.

Davis then pulls out of his pants his short barreled handgun, which Murray sees and which causes her to run to the door of the BK to call the police, but the doors are already locked.

Now, close to a van waiting at the drive-thru window, Young stops and confronts Coles while also watching Davis who is now on his right side. Not realizing Davis has a gun in his hand, Young looks at Davis, who is standing a bit farther away from him than Coles, and says to Davis, “You better tell him [Coles] to back off.”

Officer MacPhail has just arrived in the rear of the bus terminal building in which the Burger King is located. He detects a commotion in the parking lot and heads over to the side parking lot of the Burger King.

[continued on next comment]

R Lee said...

[continued from previous comment]

01:08 am

Coles reaches for Young's arm as Young looks at Davis, then Young looks directly at Coles. Davis takes a couple of quick steps “ran up” [Antoine William’s first statement to police included a description of the assailant having ‘ran up and slapped the man being followed in the head with a gun’] and hits Young on the right side of his face with the butt of his gun.

Collins, a few feet further back, sees Davis hit Young, and sees MacPhail enter the parking area, causing him to turn about and head back towards the pool room. Coles and Davis start to run away as Young yells out for help.

It is unclear as to whether, or not, MacPhail realized which of the two had hit Young, as he may have ran after Davis solely because Davis began to run again after the they had both stopped, but it is clear that MacPhail did not see Davis holding a gun when he began his pursuit, as he pulled out only his nightstick.

MacPhail shouts 'Hold it!' causing Coles and Davis to momentarily pause, but Davis knows he can’t get caught, carrying a handgun and just having hit a guy with witnesses all around, so he decides to start running again. MacPhail pulls out his nightstick and runs past Coles toward Davis.

At that moment while watching the police officer pursue Davis, the occupants of the van, waiting at the drive-thru window, do not have Coles in their direct line of sight. As soon as MacPhail runs past Coles pursuing Davis towards the front corner of the parking lot, Coles starts running again, toward the rear of the bank building, across Fahm Street..

Davis’ flight had been slightly slowed by him trying to put the gun back in his shorts, allowing MacPhail to close in fast. With the police officer nearing him, Davis makes the fatal decision to stop, turn around and aim his gun at MacPhail. Davis pulls the trigger, but it’s an empty chamber, MacPhail is now reaching for his gun. Davis then pulls the trigger again, shooting MacPhail in the face. MacPhail falls forward toward Davis, and then moves as if trying to get up.

Collins, dressed in darker clothing than either Coles or Davis, hears the first shot and starts to run. By this time, most all of the service men in the van at the drive-thru window, Murray in the parking lot, and Ferrell across the street, are witnessing Davis, in a white t-shirt and white cap, who is still aiming his gun at MacPhail. Davis fires three more rounds at the officer, now on the ground, and then runs.

Eric Ellison, coming out of the pool room hears gun fire. Tonya Johnson at her home up the street hears the same.

The witnesses are now watching Davis about to cross Fahm St. heading toward the front of the bank building. In their view also is Collins, dressed in dark clothing well ahead of Davis, already in front of the bank building. Coles was fleeing in a different direction, toward the rear of the bank building.

Davis is running lightening fast now, and catches up with Collins just before getting to the strip center lot, where Davis cuts to his right, running through the bank parking lot with gun in hand towards the rear of the strip center building. Collins sees Davis and yells out to him “Are you alright?” Davis doesn’t slow down to respond.

Walking to his car, Ellison sees Collins coming into the parking lot. Ellison tells Collins to get in the car, which they both do, and the two of them, with Sams, leave the area.

It is 01:09 am, August 19, 1989.

Part Two, Coming Soon.

-RLee

Anonymous said...

Firstly, are we assuming that the witnesses recanted under duress and made their testimony willingly? What about those who couldn't read and had no idea what their statements said? Why were the police putting words into their mouths? Secondly there are a number of witnesses who claim it was Coles and their testimonies are being disregarded. Why is this? Thirdly, I had thought that looking closely at the facts gave you a more accurate analysis than simply looking at the overview, but maybe I'm wrong?

I was watching a popular British television programme called QI last night (has the formula been exported to the US yet?). It is a panel quiz show that deals with curious and fun and bewildering facts about all sorts of everything. Consequently, the audience are quite intelligent, middle class, tuned in. In the middle of the show, a young man ran onto the set and snatched something from the host and ran off again. At the end of the show, it transpired that this was staged and a line-up was contrived.

It was obvious to me who did it because he was the only one out of the identikit, 20-something, skinny, white kid line-up that had curly hair. The majority of the audience (c.60%) got it right. But what about those that got it wrong? 40ish% of a relatively clever, (probably) not wasted or high, relaxed, focused audience whose full attention was pinpointed in exactly the right physical area chose the wrong suspect.

I mention this because whatever wranglings you do with the evidence in this case, the truth is that it is entirely based on eyewitness accounts. I am surprised, given the proven fallibility of these accounts that this is even enough to convict someone, let alone execute them.

An English Observer

R Lee said...

English Observer, I seriously doubt that there exists, given your over the top accusations against these witnesses, any eye witness testimony ever which could contribute to a death sentence, or likely even a murder conviction.

And yet you are so willing to accept any testimony, no matter how illogical, no matter how late it is given, no matter how discreditable the witness, if it gives fodder for arguing against an execution or conviction.

I can't say that I am 100% certain that Troy Davis shot MacPhail, but I am willing to at least put forth an honest effort to step up to the plate and look to see if there is enough evidence to produce a 99% certainty. And I have done that.

I look for weak eye witness accounts and give the accused the benefit of any reasonable doubt as to its veracity. I have done so in this case.

What you have done, is to say that NO eye witness account is reliable under any circumstance. You refuse to do the mental work necessary to, if possible, give justice to the victims of a crime.

In this case there is sufficient evidence. Even if you discount 85% of the evidence in this case as tainted or unreliable, there is still good and sound evidence that a wise individual could conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused was indeed guilty of killing the police officer.

It is lazy and cowardly of you to take the easy way out, and declare anyone on death row as a victim of 'the' system. That way you will have alleviated any theoretical chance of guilt for yourself.

I know this, I know that if the person you loved more than anything in this world was brutally murdered, or that they were killed while trying to help someone else, your heart would never rest, you would be tortured for so much of the rest of your life.

I deplore the justice system in my state of Georgia. Purely by accident, they got it right this time. But in the process, they shot themselves in the foot by setting out to gather evidence to convict a particular person. This is the reason case investigation and police work need to be utterly separated with a high wall between them.

And because of that fouled up investigation, I based my determination of testimony given by witnesses who were right on the scene, their testimony given soon after the crime, and testimony not having to do with facial or clothing identification, but with actions/movement of bodies. That along with the testimony of the accused himself, was sufficient to make me 95% confident.

The other 4% was achieved by the lack of any non-biased testimony being offered, even attempted, by the defense which would give me cause to question the testimony remaining.

Like MEF said earlier, you and other, mostly anonymous commentators, can't see the forest, and I'll add that you, in fact, don't want to see the forest. You pot shot endlessly without stepping back to see how each of your alternate versions of evidence fit with other evidence.

I find that the story which leaves the fewest loose, or unexplained, ends of testimony/evidence, is most likely the closest to the truth.

You have no credible story, or at least you've offered none, for that night which has Coles as the shooter of MacPhail which also ties into, or explains, all of the testimony given.

I challenge you to do what I have done, to give us a detailed story, step by step, which explains all of the varying testimony in this case.

EVERYONE agrees that it was either COLES or DAVIS. If you are so unconvinced of Davis' guilt, put together a case which will convince a jury that Coles is guilty. And remember, you hate eye witness testimony, so you can't use that.

Are you up to that challenge? I think not.

You don't have the option here, of an unknown mystery person. It is one or the other. Do you have the brain power with all of the evidence to know which one?

Anonymous said...

RLee: I am very much impressed with the detailed scenario you have presented and I appreciate your remark about the forest and the trees. Your effort is commendable.

Is there a requirement, except in a mystery novel, that we must tie all loose ends? Can we not acknowledge that there are, indeed, loose ends and be objective about the reality instead of trying to force the toothpaste back in the tube?

It is not fair to say that those raising warning flags are lazy and do not want to go through the laborious process of tying all the loose ends.

Let me try to present a bigger picture.

The majority black jury knew that the white police officer who was brutally, recklessly, and heartlessly gunned down was actually risking his precious life to help a poor homeless black man. They could not sympathize with the accused hoodlum even though he was black. It is even possible that because the hoodlum was a black man, they probably felt a burden to be assertive or they might be looked upon as racially biased and unjust. Thus the jurors might not have had the “urge” or “incentive” or an open mind to question the validity of the evidence or the argument from the state. It took them only two hours to reach the verdict.

There is an asymmetry here that arises in that, what if instead of the police officer, it was the homeless man who died? Would this case have received this level of scrutiny, one way or the other? Just a curious thought.

Another asymmetry arises from the fact that for the jury to find the accused guilty, the proof needed to be beyond reasonable doubt. However, once convicted, the person had to meet a much stricter standard to show his (or her) innocence. Also, the guilty verdict is rendered by the jury made up of ordinary citizens; however, the argument for reversal is heard by legal professionals, who as one part of their assessment had to put themselves in the shoes of the jurors to asses if the jurors would have changed their minds with the new information or argument. The jurors didn’t get to hear the case again.

Furthermore, the defending side was poorly matched against the state’s powerful team at the trial. Finally, at the hearing before Judge Moore, even the judge pointed out that the defendant’s attorneys wasted the opportunities to make a strong case for Davis by not calling some of the witnesses to the stand.

Again, I admire all the work you did in trying tie the loose ends; it shows your diligence in trying to separate the forest from the trees. But I think it takes the same courage to acknowledge that the forest may not exist.

AnonXYZ

Anonymous said...

Jeez louise, there's nothing like stepping away from personal insults, and that's nothing like stepping away from personal insults! You seem to KNOW what happened so damn well I'm not even sure this R Lee handle isn't that of Coles himself? Otherwise creating this fiction & having this crappy attitude don't make any sense.

I'm simply proffering a different point of view from a different culture. Our legal system is very different from yours and whilst it is not infallible by any means, there is at least room for recompensing victims of miscarriages of justice in our system: you can't pay compensation to the dead.

Because I come from this standpoint, I need ABSOLUTE proof, (though to be honest, I'm never going to feel easy about state sponsored murder anyway) though the idea of executing innocents is - if I weren't an atheist - a manifestation of evil.

My personal opinion is that the fine detail offers the truth, not the fiction you create, but that's an opinion. It does not make me "lazy", it means that if there are cracks, I personally would be unwilling to give a guilty verdict. The actual truth of who dunnit matters less to me than the fact that there are cracks, doubts. I'm not going to solve this case, I'm only recognising that I feel the conviction was unsafe. I'm working on the "let 10 go free than 1 be killed" methodology.

I am not convinced by the eyewitness testimony in this case because a) it was dark & late & shadowy b) some had been drinking c) they have recanted. Like I said, you are assuming that they told the truth in the first place & are now lying. That's just one possibility.

An English Observer

Anonymous said...

I should have said, it takes courage to say that the forest you are seeing may have a different color.

When RLee was graciously accepting the tall building and tiny cracks metaphor from MEF, he left a big crack wide open: MEF implied that Davis was responsible for the Cloverdale shooting, but RLee came to the conclusion that Coles and “Terry” were the shooters at Cloverdale.

What this shows is that while RLee is meticulous in his analysis, he is able to take only that part that supports his analysis while conveniently excluding something that contradicts his reasoning. As tsj has explained, it is called “confirmation bias.”

Another time-honored device RLee is employing can be explained in the words of a defense consul who advised a new attorney that “when your case is weak, attack the character and qualifications of the opposing attorney.”

I think RLee is a brilliant analyst, a logical thinker, a valuable contributor to this discussion and is capable of an open mind.
AnonXYZ

Anonymous said...

Thank you XYZ, you are expressing things very eloquently and succinctly. I am struggling, typing one-handedly with a babe on the breast. But I agree with all that you say.

An English Observer.

tsj said...

For what its worth, watching the deliberations in the comments is a bit like real jury deliberations of a difficult case behind closed doors, except in slow motion. Most people are quiet. Of those willing to speak, one or two will try to dominate the discussion. They will try to carry the day by volume or number of words.

Once people stake a firm position of guilt or innocence, they become loath to change. They become more interested in defending their original position than in sincerely understanding the thoughts of their fellow jurors.

Tensions mount and the arguments began to deteriorate. People begin to think that those who support their view are brilliant, and those who don't are idiots. Finally, someone throws out an insult in lieu of an argument, and the jury begins to crumble.

A verdict then, if it is reached at all, is reached by intimidation and group pressure rather than by reasoned discussion. The chance for a bad verdict soars.

These problems can sometimes be avoided if the jury somehow manages to select a wisened foreperson.

I have hope that someday, somewhere, someone will be spared a wrongful conviction by a reader to this blog who helped orchestrate a well-performing jury.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious RLee how you came to the conclussion that Coles was the shooter at the Cloverdale party?

What hurt Davis in the first case was the visual identification and then on his second hearing he needed to prove his innocence and all they tried to do was show some doubt and hope it was enough.

Though what I think is amazing, and maybe I am wrong, that none of the other people involved in this incident ever got into trouble later with the law.

Mike

R Lee said...

Anonymous (aka AnonXYZ),

You asked, “Is there a requirement, except in a mystery novel, that we must tie all loose ends? Can we not acknowledge that there are, indeed, loose ends and be objective about the reality instead of trying to force the toothpaste back in the tube?”

First, I will have to correct your liberal retelling of my statement, and mention that I do find it a waste of valuable time, which could be put to other productive work, to have to put the record straight when conversing with those who are supposedly honest and detailed enough to not stray from the record in their arguments.

You’re telling the readers that I wrote that we “must tie all loose ends”, when I actually said, “I find that the story which leaves the fewest loose, or unexplained, ends of testimony/evidence, is most likely the closest to the truth. ”

There are no absolutes in that statement, neither in demanding that every bit of testimony be explained, or in insisting the version of events with the fewest loose ends is the most accurate.

This goal to explain as much of the evidence, which includes explaining why some of the evidence is in error, is only a “requirement”, as you queried, if you are interested in doing right by the people involved, the victims, the perpetrators and the accused and/or suspects who are in fact innocent.

If you are perfectly willing to leave critical testimony/evidence unexplained and yet in contradiction to the verdict you have arrived upon, then you do a grave injustice, in my opinion to those involved.

Then you state, “It is not fair to say that those raising warning flags are lazy and do not want to go through the laborious process of tying all the loose ends.” And, then you use several unrelated paragraphs, under the “Let me try to present a bigger picture” intro, in attempting, to theoretically rebut my implied sentiment.

You go off on all of the ills of our trial methods and the ‘justice’ system. You have totally lost sight of what we are discussing, though your criticisms of those trial methods and our justice system are valid. Yet, we are not dickering over those ills.

You have, unjustly, implied in your rant that we on this site who have argued and/or made a determination of guilt in the Davis case have not relied upon the evidence which we have knowledge of, but instead have relied upon the word of the justice system. You attempt to casts us among the very many who defend the conviction on the grounds that a hearing, a trial, appeals, and a new evidence hearing by the court are all that is necessary to prove that Davis is guilty.

And yet I have excruciatingly examined and considered all of the evidence to which I have access, given now well over a hundred intense hours dissecting and holding that evidence up to a light, turning it about and keeping the large picture blurry in my mind as I explained to myself how each piece fit could fit with other pieces, using my life’s worth of experience to help me. And, once sifted and resifted several times, I composed on this site not only my verdict and a succinct step by step rationale for it, but then presented a considerably longer explanation of the approach underlying that rationale. And, now, I have included the first part of the larger story of that evening.

Thus, every criticism which you made in that four paragraph critique, has no bearing upon my own determination as to guilt or innocence, which relied upon none of the actors who decided, and/or later reviewed, this case for the state.

If you are going to argue a point with me, first make sure it is a point I have, in fact, made and please be careful to repeat the point accurately and, please, stick to addressing that point in your rebuttal or at least be sure to distinguish to your readers when you are critiquing my arguments and when you are critiquing something else.

Otherwise, I am glad you are interested enough and concerned enough to make this site a part of your routine, and are willing to contribute to it.

-RLee

tsj said...

RLee,
Please, I ask that you not react so defensively against anyone one who disagrees with you. You seem to take any disagreement as a personal affront. Rather than simply allowing any adverse comment to be weighed by other readers, you overwhelm the comments sections with diatribes about your infallible logic and the irrational nature of the others.

Your last comment has finally prompted me to intervene. "Otherwise, I am glad you are interested enough and concerned enough to make this site a part of your routine, and are willing to contribute to it."

You presume too much, sir. This is my blog. I have labored long and hard to bring it to this point. It is of substantial importance to me and what I hope to accomplish. I choose not to have the readers treated in such condescending fashion.

While you superficially encourage others to view this site routinely and contribute occasionally, your actions speak louder than your words. You discourage readership and participation because you can't let any criticism go unchallenged without a responding harangue. You have recently added insults to your littany.

I encourage your continued viewing and commenting. However, I ask that you accept the challenge of limiting your comments to one per post. Make your point, make it well, make it without a personal attack, and allow the readers consider it as they see fit.

Anonymous said...

Tjs, it is interesting that you compared the comments to the deliberations of a jury; for a moment this afternoon (BST), I had a brief moment where I felt that R Lee was the prosecutor and I was on trial! I'm not especially proud of how I handled it, to be fair.

However, I'm still unsure as to why R Lee finds it necessary to lambast those who try to offer an alternative to his commentary; his story makes interesting reading, but he is just stopping short of putting down what they would be thinking and feeling. The Cloverdale shooting theory is 100% speculation and whilst it may be true, I suspect, maybe even expect that he is seeking publication for his work and therefore is not really acting like a juror at all. More like a cop, or journalist?

Ultimately, the witnesses have lied at some point. Who the perpetrator is seems to rely entirely on whether they lied initially or later on. Either way, are any of them to be trusted?

At this point, which is rather too late, I think about the dying words of Davis, where he implored people to continue investigating to find the truth. I don't believe he would have said that if he were guilty: imagine how defeated his family would be had they spent most of their adult lives and health fighting for his name only to discover that he had lied to them and he really was the killer.This is the point at which I entered the discussion, post mortem, so if I am overly convinced of his innocence and unwilling to yield on it, using that as my starting point, that is perhaps why.

An English Observer.

Anonymous said...

I thought I had seen RLee’s latest discussion of the Cloverdale shooting; it then disappeared from my screen. The same thing happened to one of my earlier comment about asymmetry and I ended up repeating the same thing in a later comment.

What I am writing here relates to what I had read in RLee’s discussion of the Cloverdale shooting in which he concluded that Coles and Terry were the shooters at Cloverdale.

I had earlier expressed my curiosity about how many bullets a handgun can hold and if the gunmen carry extra bullets with them. After reading RLee’s latest explanation of the Cloverdale shooting, I thought my questions were getting answered in a plausible way. I thought RLee’s scenario could make sense.

But it then created a different issue!

According to Judge Moore’s report, Roger Parian, director of the Crime Lab, testified that while there were enough similarities between the bullets recovered from the bodies of McPhail at BK and Michael Cooper at Cloverdale so that they could “possibly” come from the same gun, Parian was “more certain” that the shell casing recovered from the Trust Company Bank right across from the Burger King parking lot was fired from the same weapon that fired four other shell casings that were recovered in Cloverdale area.

If Parian is so certain that the casings came from the same gun and if RLee is making a rather convincing argument that Coles did the shooting at Cloverdale, would it not imply that Coles could be the shooter at BK? Just curious!
AnonXYZ

tsj said...

English Observer,
Jury rooms can get pretty intense, assuming it's not a slam dunk verdict. Heck, a jury room can be even more intimidating than dueling comments by anonymous parties separated by an ocean.

For what it's worth, there was a PBS Masterpiece Theatre series called The Jury. It's about a British jury deliberation. Watched it. Liked it. It's available from Netflix and Amazon if you're interested.

When creating the fictional jury for my non-fictional book about Cory Maye, I modeled my overbearing foreperson and my obsessed, milquetoast juror after jurors from that series.

Anonymous said...

English Observer: You say that you approached this case here from a view of certainty of innocence, while I arrived here with certainty of guilt and then gradually shifted towards uncertainty of guilt. I admit that I don't know or understand everything about this case so well that I can make a shift to certainty of innocence. Still, we both agree that whatever the viewpoint, the discourse here should be civil.

tsj: I commend you for taking the proper stand with respect to your blog and I hope I do not let my guard down so that I can keep myself from getting swept into matching the volume of someone else.
AnonXYZ

Anonymous said...

I believe I have uncovered the smoking gun. It is right there in Sylvestor Coles’s trial testimony. You can read it in Judge Moore’s document. On cross-examination, “He further testified that he neither threatened to shoot anyone nor heard Mr. Davis speak to the man with the beer. (Id.at 936-37.)”

One part of this testimony is a lie. Which one and why?

One uncontestable part of the eyewitness testimony is that Murray heard someone threaten to shoot Young which made her and the two individuals with her to run to the front of the BK store.

It is also uncontested that Young was arguing with one person from the start and nobody including Coles and Davis questioned that it was Coles who was doing the talking with Young. It means that Davis was not the person who threatened to shoot Young.

Let us note here that Davis also testified at the trial that he overheard Coles threaten to shoot Young.

So, why did Coles lie at the trial? Probably because if he admitted that he threatened to shoot Young, he had the means to do so.

When you read Davis’s account of what happened at or near the BK parking lot, you realize that his account makes sense in light of the credible parts of the testimony of the other eyewitnesses.

I believe Anonymous J pointed this out in a logical manner. In short, Coles threatened to shoot Young and ran in front of him, coming face-to-face with him. Young turned towards Davis to probably plead with him to tell Coles to back-off. Coles slapped Young. Young staggered and ran to the van at the drive-through window and so on. Young was intoxicated and became disoriented after getting hit on the head and could not recall what exactly happened to him.

Do you see any holes in this scenario?
AnonXYZ

tsj said...

AnonXYZ,
I have been watching the deliberations with considerable interest. I think you vicarious jurors have been converging on a rational explanation that fits the evidence. Whether your arguments have pointed to Davis or to Coles, many of you have added pieces of insight that persist as part of the generally accepted story of the case. As more and more generally accepted pieces fit together, a consensus opinion seems to be forming. It's been fascinating.

I don't claim to know what happened, but my visualization of the crime has become more and more complete as you folks have debated. I still have considerable difficulty making sense of the positioning of the people, but I have come to visualize the crime much as you hypothesize.

Since you ask if I see holes in your scenario, I'll add this. When I was making my colorful dot image of the crime scene, trying to decide who stood where, I was bothered that the witness testimony seemed to put Coles on Young's left shoulder and Davis on Young's right shoulder. That seemed odd. It seemed as if Davis and Collins were encircling Young from the left, but Davis ended up on Young's right shoulder. It was a small point, and I did not mention it in my writing, but it nagged at me nonetheless.

That nag persisted as you guys argued about who was standing where, and which way Young turned, or if he turned at all. Everyone was trying to make sense of Young being struck on the right side of his head by a right-handed person.

It finally occurred to me that if Davis was on Young's left shoulder and Coles was on Young's right shoulder, and both were behind Young, then its possible (maybe even reasonable) that

* the same person who was verbally harrassing Young
* was the same person who threatened to kill / shoot Young,
* was the same person who reached in his shorts as if to get a gun,
* was the same person who struck Young (from behind) with a gun,
* was the same person who shot Officer MacPhail.

And that person would be Sylvester Red Coles, who
* admits to verbally harrassing Young that night
* claims to have had a gun that night
* but gave it to one or more other people earlier that night
* or left it somewhere else earlier that night, and
* and hasn't been able to find it since.

As of this moment, right or wrong, that's how I see it.

Anonymous said...

tsj: Thank you for your comments. It looks like we are converging towards the same inference.

What I find fascinating is how having an open mind can help us connect different parts of the insight offered by several individuals with whom we may or may not agree and who may be arriving at opposite conclusions!

First, let us look at Anonymous J’s insight. He argued that the confusion about whether someone was on the left side or the right side may have been caused by the frame of reference used by the observer. When Williams is saying left, he could be thinking about his left side and not the left side of the person he is describing. With this insight, J was able to explain how Young could momentarily turn to his left to face Davis, with Coles, who had run up in front of him to come face-to-face with him, now is positioned behind him. Coles then slaps Young on his head. Combining this insight with my own insight that Coles was lying about not threatening to shoot Young, we can then go on to infer that Coles was the shooter of McPhail.

Next, let us take RLee’s insight. RLee looked at the witness accounts of how many shots were fired and the timing between two shots at Cloverdale and inferred that Coles and Terry were the possible shooters there. This also helps us understand how many bullets could be remaining in one of the guns.

Roger Parian of Crime Lab asserted that he was more certain that the casing recovered at the bank building near the BK parking lot was fired from the same weapon that fired the casings recovered near Cloverdale.

If Rlee’s insight about Coles and Terry firing their weapons at Cloverdale is correct, then based on Parian’s findings, Coles could have been the shooter at the BK parking lot.
Thus, the insight of both RLee, who was actually trying to prove that Coles did the shooting only at Cloverdale and Davis did the shooting at BK, and Parian, who helped the prosecutor make the case that Davis was the shooter at BK and therefore he must be the shooter at Cloverdale helps us arrive at the opposite conclusion:, namely, Coles is the likely shooter at Cloverdale and BK.

We can argue about the color of the shirts and who is confused or disoriented, who is being coerced, who is intentionally lying, or who is telling the truth at any given moment and keep going in circles.

Perhaps, the above mentioned insights can help us come out of the circles.

Again, I invite everyone to find holes in the above line of reasoning.
AnonXYZ

tsj said...

AnonXYZ,
The problem I have with Young being hit by Coles or Davis while facing Coles or Daivs (respectively) is that Young was hit above his right eye. Davis was apparently right-handed. (Seems as if I read that somewhere) No one seems to mention that Coles was left-handed, so the probability is he was right handed. Unless the assailant backhanded Young, if he hit Young from the front, he would have hit Young over the left eye. If he hit him from behind, he would have hit him over the right eye.

That's a lot of if's, but it's also a fair amount of reasonable doubt. I can't resolve many substantive questions I have about the State's case. As a juror, the State should not want me to be in that position.

Anonymous said...

tsj, for the record, Kinsman the AF guy who did not testify at trial and who apparently did not give a police statement the night of the murder, did a later affidavit claiming certainty that the gunman fired the shots with his left hand. No evidence was ever presented about who was right or left handed, even in front of Judge Moore. Davis did claim to be right handed, and I assume that would be easily verifiable, so for the life of me I don't understand why his high-powered defense team failed to bring that out in Judge Moore's courtroom.

J

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