The execution of Troy Davis on this Tuesday night shocked America. Not because capital punishment is uncommon in the U.S., but because hundreds of thousands of people believed he was innocent.
Capital punishment is an ultimate measure. When the deal is done there is no way back saying: “Sorry for taking that long, but we’ve finally got the proof of your innocence. It’s so sad that you were executed before we actually found the real criminal.”
Death penalty is tricky. Sometimes, tragically tricky. The execution of Troy Davis reminded me of another death penalty related to the case of a Soviet serial killer known as “the Butcher of Rostov” – Andrei Chikatilo.
The serial maniac committed more than 65 murders and rapes of women and young children across a few Soviet republics. His crimes were inhumanly brutal and monstrous. The authorities and public were outraged. The police and detectives received an order to capture the maniac at any price. Nobody could tell how many men were arrested at a slightest suspicion. But despite numerous arrests the killings were continuing. The monster was unleashed. Finally, the police captured a man – Alexander Kravchenko. After “impartial” questioning he confessed being the maniac they were looking for. God only knows what methods would force a person to slander on self, knowing that such confession would lead him to a death row. He was executed by shooting with no further investigation.
Too bad, the series of murders with same “hand” continued. Detectives started looking for the maniac again, and stopped on a house for disabled youth. Mentally handicapped guy Beskorsky “confessed” under pressure in two murders, other guys as well. These sick teenagers spent 3 years in prison in terrible conditions awaiting for death penalty, when 11 new killings were committed, and these children were freed.
After long years of searching, the real killer – Chikatilo – was found… only in 1994. “I killed the first girl in 1978,” – said he – “And an innocent person was shot in my state. What’s gonna be with those, who put him on a death row?” A disgusting irony from a disgusting person, but truth is still there: who’s gonna answer for Troy Davis execution if with time a real murderer is found, as it had happened with Alexander Kravchenko?
I believe that even if there is just 1 tiny percent of possibility that the accused are innocent, they should have a chance to prove themselves so. And neither court nor families of victims should force death penalty on them only to close an “unpromising” case or to receive a “satisfaction from justice”. What if that wasn’t just? Who’s to answer for an innocent’s death then?