Beyond Reasonable Doubt: The Troy Davis Project

There is graphic language in this podcast and content that may not be suitable for some listeners

In 1991, seven black and five white jurors convicted Troy Davis of murder in the shooting death of Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail. Davis sat on Georgia’s death row for 20 years. Leading up to his execution, there were mass protests. Some of Davis’ supporters included Pope Benedict XVI, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and former Republican Congressman Bob Barr of Georgia. Their efforts to stop the execution weren’t successful.

On Sept. 21, 2011, the state of Georgia executed Troy Davis. Atlanta-based playwright Lee Nowell was captivated by the case.  She was commissioned by Atlanta’s Synchronicity Theatre to write a play based on Troy Davis’ story. It premiered at Synchronicity in 2016, and was called "Beyond Reasonable Doubt: The Troy Davis Project.” Each act of the play may lead you to a different conclusion about Troy Davis’ innocence or guilt. Lee Nowell adapted the play for GPB as a podcast and radio broadcast, featuring all the original actors. Lee blends fictional characters with research and court transcripts.

Beyond Reasonable Doubt: The Troy Davis Project intertwines fictional characters reacting to the pending execution of Troy Davis with factual material drawn from the Davis trial transcript, media reports and statements from advocacy organizations and individuals that took a position on the execution. Playwright Lee Nowell structured her play so that each person who comes to it can decide for themselves what to make of Davis’s guilt or innocence and of his controversial execution. Like Nowell, GPB Radio entrusts to listeners the choice of deciding for themselves the issues the play presents.


On Second Thought's Virginia Prescott talked with Lee Nowell about developing the play. Virginia also spoke with former Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Rhonda Cook and the Marshall Project staff writer Maurice Chammah to learn more about the death penalty and execution process in Georgia.


Trial Transcripts (PDG)
Recantation Files (PDF)
Op-Ed from former District Attorney Spencer Lawton


Cynthia D. Barker - Lucy, Utility #4
John Benzinger - Tony, John, Utility #1
Eddie Bradley, Jr. - Utility #2
Lane Carlock - Alison
Danielle Deadwyler - Utility #3
Terry Henry - Mary
Eric Mendenhall - Bob
Stephen Ruffin - Curtis
Dakota Adams- Narrator


Executive Producer & Host: Bill Nigut
Senior Producer: Sean Powers
Production Assistance: Jenny Ament and Olivia Reingold
Engineer: Lane Starratt

Music in this podcast is by Blue Dot Sessions