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Troy Davis' sister keeps promise to continue fighting

By Moni Basu, CNN
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Sat April 7, 2012
After her sister Martina Correia died, Kim Davis took the lead role in the fight to clear the name of her brother, Troy Davis.
After her sister Martina Correia died, Kim Davis took the lead role in the fight to clear the name of her brother, Troy Davis.
  • Troy Davis' younger sister has taken up the battle to clear his name
  • He was executed for the murder of police officer Mark MacPhail
  • Kim Davis lost her brother, sister and mother last year
  • She says she prays for the MacPhail family

Atlanta (CNN) -- Kim Davis buried three members of her family at Savannah's Magnolia Memorial Gardens last year. She visits them three or four times a week.

She hears her brother, Troy Davis: "I am innocent."

She hears her sister, Martina Correia: "Don't give up the fight."

And her mother, Virginia Davis: "I love you."

Kim Davis is left holding the family mantle now, assuming the lead to clear her brother's name.

It was a role Correia had played since August 1989, when Troy Davis was named a suspect in the shooting death of Savannah police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail.

She stayed by her brother's side through his trial, conviction and sentencing, and visited him for two decades on Georgia's Death Row, never slowing in her effort to exonerate him.

Through the years of legal battles and appearances before judges and clemency boards, Correia suffered from breast cancer eating away her body. By the time of Davis' execution last September, she was bound to a wheelchair. A chest tube helped her breathe.

Still, she stood up from her chair to speak on her brother's behalf.

Davis maintains innocence to end

The doubt cast over Troy Davis' guilt made him a poster child for opponents of capital punishment. Correia became one of the movement's strongest advocates.

Troy Davis offers blessing as last words

She held on for two months after the execution, buoyed by promises to her brother that she would be his voice when he could no longer speak.

"Martina told Troy she would continue to fight," Kim Davis says.

The execution, she says, even helped Correia make a turnaround in her failing health, so determined was she to make good on her word. They had always been close: T and T, they called themselves. Tina and Troy.

But by Thanksgiving, Correia was sinking. She died a few days later.

Davis took her place at a Washington anti-death penalty event. It was the first time she had spoken in her sister's stead and she knew there would be many more such events to come.

Her brother wanted it that way. Strapped to the execution gurney, Troy Davis said: "I ask my family and friends to continue to fight this fight."

Recently, Kim Davis drove from Savannah to Atlanta to speak about her brother at Spelman College and at Woodward Academy, a private school. She walks with a cane because of multiple sclerosis. She wears a blue T-shirt that says "I Am Troy Davis."

"The fight was bigger than Troy," she says. "We're fighting against the system."

Nothing she does will bring her brother back; there can be no more hearings in court. But if she keeps digging, maybe one day she will find a clue. Maybe one day someone will say something that will convince everyone that her brother did not kill.

She believes Georgia executed an innocent man. She cannot hide her deep disappointment in the justice system.

But she prays for the MacPhails, she says.

"It's sad for someone to have so much hate in their heart."

Troy forgave those who spoke against him, she says. So she has, too.