Asheville stands in a unique position to positively affect this national movement and debate. The very next day after Troy Davis was executed as innocent, the North Carolina Innocence Commission, the only one in the country, found three Buncombe County men (translate as Asheville) completely innocent for murder and released them immediately from the Buncombe County Jail after serving a long ten years.
These so-called “Guiding Light 3” pled guilty upon threat of the death penalty, but ten years later, their attorneys found a suppressed video tape of the convenience store shooting. Unbelievably, the shooters' faces had been taped over with an episode of the soap opera, “Guiding Light,” within two hours after the tape arrived in the possession of the Buncombe County Sheriff's Department. No, this is not fiction. Three Buncombe County men were convicted for a murder they did not commit while the Buncombe County Sheriff's office framed them with a soap opera, evidence that was withheld by our DA's office.
In addition, the Asheville Police Department has been rocked with criminal scandal when it was discovered that large amounts of drugs, guns and money turned up “missing” from the evidence room and many large-scale drug trafficking cases had to be dismissed. Our Police Chief, Hogan, immediately “retired.” The SBI and independent auditors were called in and are expected to issue preliminary findings in coming weeks.
Other instances of local police and prosecutorial misconduct include racially targeting a Mexican man with trafficking 90 lbs of “tortilla dough,” (also, true story), and the random, unwarranted brutality of local musician Juan Holliday, as well as increasing excessive force and illegal searches, seizures and arrests. Anyone familiar with our local criminal justice system, as myself, can testify to the corruption in both law enforcement and prosecution. We have several bad apples that need to be removed, and to support our exemplary police officers, of which there are many.
Asheville must come together to educate itself about our local corruption and demand it's end, as we stand ready to employ a new Asheville Police Chief.
The execution of Troy Davis was a clear human rights violation, as leaders from all over the world strenuously called for it's halt. Seven of the nine witnesses recanting ever implicating Troy, one of the remaining two was the real killer. Pages of affidavits revealed police intimidation and threats to implicate Troy. Anyone with any sense could read those affidavits and their corroborating details and immediately see police misconduct against a black man led to Troy's conviction and ultimately execution by the State of Georgia.
As the spectacular timing suggests, North Carolina, and, in particular, Buncombe County, hold a key towards preventing wrongful convictions and ending execution of the innocent in the future, and perhaps ending the death penalty all together. The North Carolina Innocence Commission worked. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles did not.