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. lesterg

    Its all about the death penalty. Its opponents won't stop until it is no more and will make whatever noise is necessary to achieve that. This is not an issue of right or wrong.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Veritas

      You are exactly right, lesterg, we will not stop fighting until this barbaric practice is a just another relic of our sad history. All civilized nations have long since abolished premeditated murder as an option in their penal codes. I hope one day the United States will become civilized and stop killing people. The death penalty is a national embarrassment and makes me ashamed to call this place home. It is also extremely immoral. The FACT of the matter is that Troy Davis is just the latest innocent person who will be murdered by the state. States with the murder penalty don't care about guilt or innocence. They just care about whipping the crowds into some blood lust frenzy and pretending to be tough on crime. It is a sad, pathetic commentary on our society.

      September 16, 2011 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
    • o

      I'm not necessarily against the death penalty, but when the integrity of the judicial system is in question, you better be absolutely sure you're not executing an innocent man. Else, why should I trust the system at all? If you're so cavalier about it, why wait for the state to waste everybody's time and money? Just do it yourself.

      September 16, 2011 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
    • duke5343

      Yes and they DONT care about the Murder Victims or the familys carrying the horro with them for years

      September 16, 2011 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Pintu

      Would you be saying the same words if you were facing the death penalty being convicted without any physical evidence at trial and based only on testimony of 9people of whom 7 later decide they are not so sure? Would you rather get fried?

      September 16, 2011 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
    • junior

      Execute them all. Or let those against the death penalty support them and leave my taxes out of it.

      September 16, 2011 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      >>>Veritas...IF YOU DON't LIKE YOUR COUNTRY GET THE *&^* OUT! To say "The death penalty is a national embarrassment and makes me ashamed to call this place home" and that it is extremely immoral is defending the immoral acts of socially ill people like this CONVICTED COP KILLER! Advice to you is leave MY country! In my opinion lethal injection is to gentle, I say drive him out to desert make him dig his own hole, shoot him in the ankles and let the buzzards take care of the rest!

      September 16, 2011 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • kenny

      to Veritas....If you are so ashamed of The USA please by all means dont let the door of the air plane hit you in the butt as you take off for another country...........Yes Im from Georgia....... im not racist and............. Im not for the death penalty......but I am for the USA its the greatest country in the World........and yes my family has been in the US before there was a "USA" .......since the 1600's....grand pas and relatives that fought in the french indian war, revolutionary war, civil war, spanish american, WW1 WW2 Korea, Vietnam, Iraq....just to name a few.

      September 16, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Mars Tom

      Hey Junior...
      Do you realize it costs far more to execute someone than to incarcerate?
      Do you also realize we are putting to death people based on a system that in no way can be 100% accurate 100% of the time?
      Additionally... It has never been proven that such 'punishment' is a deterrent to the crimes associted with this punishment.
      The act of the govt killing someone as a form of "ultimate justice" is immoral.
      Those that support such support an immoral act.

      September 16, 2011 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    Forget him, he is a dead man.
    He is black and in Georgia, and if you ever had the privilege of
    Sitting in on a bunch of prosecutors having lunch you would understand.
    It’s a game. They don’t care if a person is guilty or innocent. Its how much
    Time they get. They joke a bought this over lunch. “a bag of weed and he got 2 years”
    “Mine stole a car and I got that mo-fo 4 years”……..

    September 16, 2011 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
    • namenamename

      Hey Mike, I'm from Georgia and you just called all of us racist. Jerk.

      September 16, 2011 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Tee

      Oh stop pulling the race card. If we gave every one of your friends a break the country wouldn't be safe to live in. Also, no one will take you seriously with grammar as atrocious as that.

      September 16, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Educated

      They joke "a bought".... His education backs up his statements.

      September 16, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  3. B+

    Someone posted earlier, "if they follow through with the injection, they're will be hell to pay when they riot......".

    What happens when you let a 2 year old get their way every time they throw a screaming fit ? They scream more and more until finally to have to put an end to it. Its time for this country to stop this 2 year old from screaming every time they don't get their way. Problem is, each time you give into a screaming 2 year old, it gets harder to stop the trend. Regardless, this country needs to roll up its sleaves and not give in to this screaming 2 year old. Its been long over due.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
    • K

      Justice is far from 2 years old. She is old, wise and keeping watch to defend against the gross corruption and injustice of biased men like you.

      September 16, 2011 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
    • MRS.THANG

      WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY?

      September 16, 2011 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  4. Dede

    Justice administered wrongfully is no justice at all. For anyone. With the chorus getting louder by the day demanding this man be set free, I would like to think justice would be better served if his execution were stopped. And once the real perpetrator is held accountable, Mr. Davis should be allowed to go home.

    We should not be executing people for criminal offenses in this country. The maximum penalty should be life in prison. We should not execute someone based on hearsay or eyewitness testimony. If we can't in this day and age come up with solid physical evidence of a crime what are we doing. The taking of a life is morally and socially suspect no matter who does it, an individual or the state. We must stop this slaughter of human lives.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Fast Fred

      You got any idea how much money it takes to keep prisoner in jail for life? Their not punished their cater to, they have rights. Color 3D TV , They can get a college Education, and it's all on your dime. No more bread and water. Hey I know let's let them live at your house with one of those ankel bracelets and you pay for them the rest of your life.

      September 16, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Adumb

      Although I agree with you, you have to remember that the politicians that run this country are also businessmen. The sad fact is that it's cheaper to dig a hole, than it is to provide a prisoner with room and board (regardless of quality) for the rest of his/her life. One of the reasons that the death penalty is appealing to so many of those in charge is that it provides a means for keeping the jailed population down (if only slightly), and allowing the state to hold on to more of their money.

      I disagree with this from every aspect. I just wish I could think of a more productive means of imprisoning the guilty.

      September 16, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Tee

      "Their not punished their cater to, they have rights. Color 3D TV , They can get a college Education, and it's all on your dime."__________________________________________________________ The joint isn't any rose garden so stop with the snowjob attempts. Also your spelling and grammar are simply atrocious. I don't know how you expect people to take you seriously. That being said, this dude was sentenced and it needs to be carried out.

      September 16, 2011 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      Fast Fred – It is actually more expensive for the state to execute someone than to keep them in prison for life. Most people think it is the other way around, but it is not. Being put on death row will still keep you in prison for a very long time, and the cost of the entire appeals process + the injection itself is more expensive than being in prison for life.

      Signed, a criminologist.

      September 16, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Dede

      This is the question: how do we, as a "modern," "civil" society administer justice to those who are found BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT to be gulty of the offense for which they have been charged. Imprisoning someone for the rest of their life is not cheap, but executing them is also not cheap, nor has the death penalty (I believe the name to be a misnomer) ever been a deterent to future acts by others. It serves no valid purpose to society, as we can protect society from those who have killed by simply locking them up forever. You, I, everyone pays no matter how we exact justice. The sole justification for the death penalty is the christian notion of an eye for an eye. There is no justification in law for executing someone. We do not allow assisted suicide, in fact we call it a crime, so how can we claim the death penalty is acceptable. You (the American people) cannot have your cake and eat it too. If we as members of that society are not willing to pay the price for exacting justice, such as paying for prisons and prison guards, why then do we bother with it at all?

      September 16, 2011 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  5. Kevin

    We built a criminal justice system in this country that uses humans to make all the judgment calls. When the state places itself in the position where IT decides whether to kill a person, there are bound to be those cases where human error causes the killing of someone who did not commit the crime of which they're accused.

    This story is not about Al Sharpton, it's not about the NAACP, and it's not about Jimmy Carter. This story asks one simple question; Are we ok with killing someone when it becomes clear that there is reasonable doubt about whether the person actually committed the crime?

    The death penalty is final, it's absolute, and there is no going back. There ought to be a mechanism in place where it is a simple process to turn a death sentence into something else. Getting a pardon is rather extraordinary, but that isn't really even the question at this point.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  6. Fryhimgood

    The guy shot a cop....let him fry. We don't need to wring our hands and worry about if the punishment was too tough. We don't want or need people like this in our society or jails. Let the thug take the big dirt nap!

    September 16, 2011 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Fry, you are saying the Government is ALWAYS RIGHT. Seriously? 100 percent always right over the course of our history? That's pretty amazing. I'll let you in on a secret, though: that's also called ignorance.

      September 16, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Mitch

      Hey man, how about you actually read the article before posting next time? The issue is not whether the punishment is too tough, but whether this man is guilty or not. There was little evidence except testimony at his trial to prove his guilt. Now that even that evidence is in question, there should be some sort of stay. You can't undo an execution if it turns out he wasn't guilty.

      September 16, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  7. GG

    I am a conservative republican and a proponent for the death penalty – that said – there can be zero doubt regarding a person's guilt. In this case there certainly seems to be a vast amount of reasonable doubt. If the governor does not grant a stay – Obama surely will. The african american community will be outraged – and rightfully so. This one just doesn't seem right.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  8. FinallyDone

    funny how people think this blog will make a difference.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      This page won't amke a difference but hopefully 600000 signatures will get through someone's thick skull.

      September 16, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  9. 60's Man

    I don't think anyone is saying, "Let him go free." What I believe most people are saying, myself included, is that there is a reasonable doubt about his guilt that should preclude his execution. Commute it to Life without parole pending a new trial. I do wish that we would get rid of the death penalty as that is something a civilized society should abhor. Retribution is just an act of anger.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      Or insurance that they can never harm another in society again.

      September 16, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  10. Joe

    Death penalty is good if you are 150% sure of guilt, there should be a higher standard to implement the death penalty. No physical evidence then no death penalty, just life in prison.

    We need the death penalty, if not as a deterrent but simply as revenge, but we better not mess it up, not in this day and age of technology and DNA and forensics.

    September 16, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  11. boogietime

    I am all for the death penalty, but without a shred of physical evidence, this one looks fishy to me.

    September 16, 2011 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  12. Lou

    This sounds like a case for the great and almighty JENFITZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 16, 2011 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  13. morbus gravis

    there is no reasonable doubt he was convicted beyond a reasonable doubt. 29 judges have examined the case including the supreme court and all say hes guilty as charged.
    there was in fact physcical evidence from the case the shells from the killing of the cop matched with the shells from the shooting of cooper that he did earlier. and he was convicted of shooting cooper in the face too.
    people with an agenda are making stuff up.
    none of you can explain how the shells match up can you???? and none of you can explain why he went into hiding before anyone was looking for him.
    and evidence that was excluded from teh trial. was the bloody shorts he was wearing, his lawyer fought to have that not shown.
    why??? if hes inncoent what wrong with bringing the cloths into the case he was wearing that night the cloths with blood on them???lol
    guilty guily
    recanting testamony does not mean hes innocent. 2 other people stand by theres. and the physcical evidence clearly shows he did it

    September 16, 2011 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
    • hmmmmm

      Gee, coulda sworn the article said no physical evidence... you makin this up?

      September 16, 2011 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Morbid,

      Coles - who many say is the real killer - has not recanted. That's not much of a defense. And how does one shoot a "cooper" in the face? In fact, what is a "cooper?"

      September 16, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
  14. JohnnyJett & The Dirty Socks

    Ask for a Presideltial Pardon?

    September 16, 2011 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
  15. John

    lesterg and Veritas.. Eye for an eye.. If your afraid of the death penatly then don't kill someone else. This black man is a coward and should have been put to death years ago.
    Do either of you bozo's ever think of the men and woman who work at the jails. Their lives are in danger every day because of dopes like yourself. I hate protesters who have zero common sense. What a bunch of losers you both are.

    September 16, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Another one who always feels the government is 100 percent right all the time. Pretty amazing. So, what are your thoughts on Randall Adams ("Thin Blue Line"), who was tried and prosecuted in Dallas, Texas, and later found to have been innocent? He was PROVEN innocent, but in your world, once he was found guilty he should have been executed.

      And what of Bruce Godschalk (Pennsylvania)? Clarence Elkins (Ohio)? No, the real loser with no common sense is you. Anyone who is blood thirsty enough to think that innocent people, such as Adams and Elkins, should be executed is the real killer.

      September 16, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      John, for your reading pleasure since the government is never wrong, if you have the courage to do so.

      http://www.innocenceproject.org/know/Browse-Profiles.php

      September 16, 2011 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
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