Martina Davis Correia, the indomitable activist who fought the execution of her brother Troy Davis until his last breath earlier this year, has passed away.
Over the years Correia was her brother’s staunchest advocate after he was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of Mark MacPhail, a white police officer. The murder weapon was never recovered, and seven of the nine witnesses later recanted or changed their testimony. Evidence suggests MacPhail’s real killer may still be free.
There was "too much doubt," Correia argued. It became the tagline of the campaign to stop her brother’s execution. Correia believed in his innocence and helped build an international movement around her brother that Amnesty International, the ACLU, the NAACP, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and President Jimmy Carter joined.
In the end, despite the international appeals and the overwhelming doubt, the state of Georgia killed Davis on September 21 earlier this year.
All along, she was fighting for her own life. Correia was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer in 2001, and lived ten years longer than doctors expected her to. She believed that their lives, and their struggles to stay alive, were intertwined.
"The fight for my life and the fight for Troy’s life has been two folds," Correia said at Davis’ funeral earlier this year, Democracy Now! reported. "They used poison to kill my brother, and then they use poison to keep me alive. And so, I want people to understand that, you know, we’re not supposed to kill people, and we’re supposed to help people. And I want them to know that Troy is just as much me as I am Troy. And I’ll never forget that."
In September, with her own health failing, Correia was still at press conferences and rallies. In the days before her brother’s execution, with the help of family, pulled herself up from her wheelchair in a symbolic gesture of unity and solidarity with her brother. "I’m here to tell you that I’m going to stand here for my brother today," Correia told a crowd of cheering supporters.
And with one hand steadying herself on her wheelchair and the other gripping a mic, Correia led the crowd as they spoke the now familiar words. "I am Troy Davis. You are Troy Davis. We are Troy Davis."
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