September 15th, 2011
03:21 PM ET

663,000 names on petition protesting Troy Davis' execution

Supporters of convicted cop killer Troy Davis say time is running out.

Unless something dramatic happens, Davis will die by lethal injection next week for the 1989 murder of Savannah, Georgia, police officer Mark MacPhail.

Davis, 42, is set to be executed at 7 p.m. Wednesday, and since his 1991 conviction, seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted or contradicted their testimony. No physical evidence was presented linking Davis to the killing of the policeman.

Many people fighting for Davis' life are feeling the pressure.

"We honor the life of Officer MacPhail," said Edward DuBose, Georgia state conference president of the NAACP, but he added, "You cannot right a wrong by offering up Troy Davis, who we believe is not the person responsible."

The NAACP joins several groups advocating for Davis, who also counts former President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pope Benedict XVI and singer Harry Belafonte among his defenders.

The Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network plans to hold a candlelight vigil Friday for Davis at Atlanta's historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. Sharpton will speak at the rally at 7 p.m. ET.

Supporters Thursday delivered a massive petition containing more than 663,000 signatures in support of clemency for Davis.

They're worried that won't be enough, as all legal appeals have been exhausted and only the state Pardon and Parole Board can call off Wednesday's execution. The board denied clemency in 2008.

"In some ways, the board has an opportunity to look at this case afresh," said Laura Moye with Amnesty International USA, which has long denounced Davis' conviction.

A new witness who testified during a 2010 evidentiary hearing said he saw another person shoot MacPhail. Supporters hope that fact will be considered by the parole board.

"So why is it that we are willing to believe what they said in 1991, but are not willing to believe what they have to say today," Moye said. "Most of (the witnesses) have recanted or contradicted their testimony and additional testimony has come forward to implicate this alternative suspect."

MacPhail's family has steadfastly asserted that Davis was the killer, and the district attorney who prosecuted Davis has maintained his position that Davis is guilty. He does not have much confidence in witness recantations.

"I'm just disappointed so many people have been led to believe nobody has paid attention to these recantations. It is simply not the case," former Chatham County District Attorney Spencer Lawton once told CNN affiliate WTOC. "On what grounds are the recantations more believable than the testimony in court? None."

Reviewing Davis' claims of innocence last year, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia found that Davis "vastly overstates the value of his evidence of innocence."

"Some of the evidence is not credible and would be disregarded by a reasonable juror," Judge William T. Moore wrote in a 172-page opinion. "Other evidence that Mr. Davis brought forward is too general to provide anything more than smoke and mirrors," the court found.

soundoff (795 Responses)
  1. humberto

    Law dictates the expense of thoes committing the fraud be held liable – NO JOKE

    September 16, 2011 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. SpiderCNN

    While it is deeply sad not to have officer Mcphail with us today, i think we the court should not execute this man, as in in 1989 this man was only 20 years of age. I am sure at this age he has much regret for his action, and perhaps given the chance to go back he would behave differently. Also if God forgives, who are we not to?

    September 16, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Dw

      There are many legal and evidentary reasons why this execution should hault. This bullsh!t comment should never be a consideration for liency in any court.

      September 16, 2011 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
    • jp

      SpiderCNN- It is a shame you cant sit in his lap as they hit the chair, Its a shame you cand have a vain infected with the juice at the same time.
      I dont give a rats you know what if he was 20 at the time, He was a adult who did the crime not he has to pay for it period, black,white ,yellow,red or green pokadot.
      Good bye- hit the juice.

      September 16, 2011 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jj 3doorsdown

    Where is the end of this game we play...

    September 16, 2011 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      Depends on who goes home and who doesn't .

      September 16, 2011 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  4. WOT

    Time will tell the story of our country's fall, was Rome! Unjust laws are not to be followed: Nat Turner was an example. Did he have an all White jury?

    September 16, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      The Roman empire was never Just, you fool.

      September 16, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  5. travis

    Just goes to show that witnesses can be paid to say anything for the police. The people feel guilty and want out, but the prosecutors still want death and a win; its sad

    September 16, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  6. William

    Why is this murderer still alive? He committed this crime 21 years ago!

    September 16, 2011 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. What

    SpiderCNN...Who cares if he was 20 years old! He killed a man. If a 20 year old killed your family member I am sure you would think differently. Your saying all the covicted killers in America that chose to brake the law and take another person's life should be let free cause they are 20 years of age. You must be a very stupid person to think this. Yes we can forgive but he NEEDS to be executed along with all the other CONVICTED murderers in jail and prison! Your comment is seriously stupid!

    September 16, 2011 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      What about the withness testomonys that are now Frauds?

      September 16, 2011 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. ahetch

    We're talking about Texas here. If any state can produce law officials that will intimidate witnesses, it will be Texas. And besides that, putting this man to death will give perry another feather in his cap.

    September 16, 2011 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
  9. Paul

    Many innocent people have been convicted and killed in the US.
    The reason why once sentenced .. court and prosecutor do not want to accept the mistake is that if they dido so, in a few years the death penalty would be abolished.
    Now, prosecutors who ask for death sentence are just predator killers, who enjoy killing and hide behind the mask of a justice system they enjoy manipulating. there is no doubt that those who will execute this man enjoy the thought of it ...
    that's what justice in the US is .... legalized serial killing.

    September 16, 2011 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  10. Paul

    by the way, yes, jurors can make mistakes ... Casey Anthony ... anyone?
    If they mistakenly acquit .. they even more mistakenly (as already happened several times) can convict.

    Of course, if you are an idiot .. you will never admit that

    September 16, 2011 at 1:22 am | Report abuse |
  11. jytlm

    I don't understand the comment about "evidence of innocence." I thought our legal system was built around evidence of guilt, and the innocence was presumed. Maybe it's different for appeals, but it seems like the burden should be on proving his guilt, not his innocence.

    September 16, 2011 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. FU

    They found his shorts in his mom's dryer, full of blood evidence, which the judge threw out because the cops didn't get a "warrant", regardless of the fact that they we're looking for a known cop killer that was identified by several witnesses. He shot a guy in the face at a party, then beat up a homeless guy down the street, where officer MacPhail intervened. Davis then shot the father of 2 kids in the face also...I say let Davis live and sweat a little longer, then botch the execution several times!

    September 16, 2011 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      All you did was prove how good the detectives were at embezzeling the people they serve .

      September 16, 2011 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. Nina

    " Former Chatham County District Attorney Spencer Lawton once told CNN affiliate WTOC. "On what grounds are the recantations more believable than the testimony in court? None."

    With our present knowledge, we can also say:

    " On what grounds is the previous testimony in court more believable than the recantations? None."

    September 16, 2011 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      Thats all crimunal isn't it, yet nothing is still done about them obstructing justice .

      September 16, 2011 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
  14. me

    Let me get this straight. This guy has been sitting on death row for 20 years. It takes that long to put a needle in someone's arm? That is a lot of tax dollars being spent. If he was given the death penalty why is he still alive? Anyways, just amazed at how slow this system is! Are we really 20 years behind? Clearly they have gone through the original trial and found no standing of the desperation being put on keeping this guy alive with actual facts. Do they not have DNA or something with the gun? After all this was back in 89' right? Meaning they may not of done any DNA testing. Not only that the FIRST accounts of witnesses are always the most reliable. Especially after 20 years of hearing new versions and little chance of twisting those accounts by the defense or others in order to recant their stories. Or make them believe something they didn't actually see at the time. It's like planting a false memory throughout the years. Now that it's been 20 years they want them to believe either they need to recant their stories or feel guilty forever for the death of this man. When in reality what they first seen was most likely the real memory void of psychological inputs of others placing someone else as the shooter. The Courts are right. The Defense has no NEW evidence. Just the recanting of witnesses that most likely through the years and with help of the Defence placed those new memories there.

    September 16, 2011 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      If the witnesses were the only evidence, what else is there ?

      September 16, 2011 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      its the gun that got him convicted, the gun he used to shoot cooper in the face was the same gun that killed the officer. there was physical evidence the shell caseings. depite what the anti DP people try to keep saying. and he went and split town for what reason? who would of he known a cop was killed and they would later be looking for him?
      this shorts found at his moms house which his lawyer successfully argued they needed a warrent for. had the cops blood on them. though they were not admitted as evidence they do show in reality that there is no mistake that he killed this cop.

      September 16, 2011 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
  15. stereogirl

    This is a pretty simple question but one I feel needs to be asked. Did anyone commenting that the man needs to be executed read the same article I did? Witnesses who've recanted their statements? A complete lack of physical evidence tying him to the crime? Um, hi – you can't execute someone with proof. This is ridiculous. I don't care how old he was when the crime was committed. I don't care what color his skin is. If there is reasonable doubt – and there definitely should be to anyone with a brain in this case – the death penalty shouldn't be applied. It seems so obvious to me. Am I missing something here?

    September 16, 2011 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      there was physical evidence. the shell caseings the anti death penalty crowd are lying to you

      September 16, 2011 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      7 of the 9 witnesses recanted leaving two .

      September 16, 2011 at 2:07 am | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      7 of the nine recanted, leaving two who did not . The seven are stil guilty for obstructing justice because of their admitted frauds to deceive they feel guilty about .

      September 16, 2011 at 2:14 am | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      Each of the now-"recanting" witnesses was closely questioned at trial by lawyers representing Davis, specifically on the question whether they were in any way pressured or coerced by police in giving their statements or testimony. All denied it.

      And while an 80 percent recantation rate – the first in the history of the world ? – may seem to some as overwhelmingly persuasive, to others of us it invites a suggestion of uncanny coincidence, making it very difficult to believe.

      Third , they claim that their "newly discovered evidence" (i.e., the recantations) hasn't been adequately considered by the courts. This is not true.

      The affidavits, in various combinations, had already been reviewed by 29 judges in seven different types of review, over the course of 17 years, before Tuesday's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

      The state Parole Board halted the execution in 2007, saying they wouldn't allow a possibly innocent man to be executed. Then, after more than a year of reviewing all of the evidence on both sides, and hearing from every witness Davis' lawyers presented – including Davis – they refused to grant clemency.

      The trial was fair. Davis was represented by superbly skilled criminal defense lawyers. He was convicted by a fair jury (seven black and five white). The post conviction stridency we've seen has been much about the death penalty and little about Troy Davis.

      The jury found that Davis, after shooting another man earlier in the evening, murdered a police officer who came to the rescue of a homeless man Davis had beaten. Mark MacPhail had never even drawn his weapon.

      September 16, 2011 at 2:18 am | Report abuse |
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