Workman: Unjust Execution???


Chris Minton wrote the following in the March 18, 2001 edition of the Tennessean (p. 21A).  Chris is the attorney for Philip Workman who was, at the time of this newspaper article, trying to avoid the death penalty. 


"The only "witness" who claimed at trial that he saw Workman shoot Memphis Police Lt. Ronald Oliver committed perjury.  At Workman' trial, Harold Davis testified that he was a computer operator from Tacoma, Wash.  He testified that after he parked his car on a vacant Wendy's parking lot, he saw Workman coolly and deliberately shoot Oliver in the chest.  In the closing argument, the prosecutor told Workman's jury: 'Was it a thing where they were wrestling over this pistol?  N.  Was it a thing where the lieutenant was trying to get the pistol away and there's an accidental discharge? No.'  The jury agreed and sentenced Workman to death.  We now know, beyond any doubt, that Davis was not a computer operator.  He was, and remains today, a vagabond drug addict who wanders from one cheap motel room to another.  We now know, beyond any doubt, that Davis was not at the crime scene.  He was in a car blocks away.  We now know, beyond any doubt, that Davis did not see Workman, or anyone else, coolly and deliberately shoot Oliver.  He saw nothing.  Some say we should overlook Davis's false testimony and nonetheless execute Workman because his robbery of the Wendy's set in motion a chain of events that resulted in the death of a police officer.  While this reasoning may satisfy individual notions of justice, we are a state based on written laws---not individual notions of justice.  No one can seriously dispute that it is illegal to determine a person's punishment based on lies…Yes, Workman is guilty of a crime and deserves to be punished.  It is in our best interest; however, to realize that killing Workman based on Davis's lies is intolerable.  When making your own decision on whether Workman's execution should go forward remember: What happened to Philip Workman can happen to you."