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. HA25

    First of all, Thor if you really want a justice system based on the Bible, we're going to have to start stoning people for apostacy again. Instead – I submit we meet out earthly justice based on earthly laws and punishments.
    "when it is found that the very cops who wrote the evidence against him are suspect," – You may want to cite facts for that slander, sir.
    You think Mr. Davis, after the guilty finding a second time, won't find more to sling to obfuscate the issue?
    The other problem, of course, is re-trying from SCRATCH a crime that occurred 20 years ago is more than difficult. Witnesses were fresher in the first trial. Now memories, even of such significant events, fade.
    A second trial is not warranted without REAL evidence not a few witnesses saying they weren't sure on Dr. Phil.
    But don't worry – if you're right then God will surely grant Mr. Davis eternity in Heavan. If you need a volunteer to pull the switch give me a call.

    September 16, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  2. HA25

    If you have nothing to contribute, perhaps keeping your mouth shut might be a better idea...

    September 16, 2011 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Martina

      That is so arrogant ! Hope you feel better after you're judgement. Hiphiphuray

      September 17, 2011 at 3:25 am | Report abuse |
  3. Josh Maxus

    I am ok with execution of cold blooded murderers. BE d- sure the guilty person(s) is(are) the person(s)
    executed. There is enough history showing sinister negligence when it comes to executing black people.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      whites are executed more then blacks. so its not a racist thing.....
      Opponents of the death penalty often claim that the death penalty is implemented in a racist manner with the result being that blacks are overrepresented on death row. Well, sort of. Let's take a look at the numbers.

      In 2007, about 42% of the prisoners on death row were black, while 56% were white*. Of the 1088 prisoners actually executed since 1984, 374, or about 34%, were black. About 1/8 of the US population is black, so relative to their representation in the general population, blacks are definitely overrepresented on death row, and in executions.

      But that's a silly basis for comparison. The question isn't whether a random black person is more likely to be executed than a random white person, but whether a black murderer is more likely to be executed or sentenced to death than a white murderer. Between 1976 and 2005, 52% of all murders were committed by black offenders. So it turns out that blacks are actually underrepresented on death row relative to the rate at which they commit murder.

      Granted, there could be other reasons besides an unbiased criminal justice system for the underrepresentation of black murderers on death row. It could be that black murderers are more likely to be tried by predominantly black juries, who may be less inclined than predominantly white juries to impose the death penalty. It could be that whites are more likely to commit the types of murders that invite death sentences. It could be that juries find black victims less sympathetic, perhaps because of racism, or perhaps because they really are less sympathetic (e.g., gang members). But it clearly is not true that blacks are overrepresented on death row in any relevant sense.

      September 16, 2011 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Phil in Oregon

      True there were unjust executions in the past, of blacks and every other color, but not so much any more. Trying to say he's innocent because he's black is the same as saying he's guilty because he's black. Exactly the same. He was given his day in court, hundreds of them, and he's still guilty.

      September 16, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      Hey Morbis.... your math is in error. By your own numbers, blacks not only are not under represented, but if you use a per capita basis, they actually are over represented by a huge amount. All your smoke and mirror math still does not refute the fact that the "evidence" in the case is suspect. It was coerced, and sir, that is a federal violation of law.

      September 16, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      if blacks are committing 52% of the murders then 52% of the death row inmates should be black but this is not the case, the majority on death row are whites........the math is correct

      September 16, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      even though blacks are only 12% of the populatiion they commit 52% of the over all murders in the usa. so in reality 52% of death row should be black people. but its not 56% of death row are whites. who commit fewer murders over all in the usa.

      September 16, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      Your statement is invalid when you don't compare the total population of blacks to the total population of whites. If you have 100 whites in a popluation and 50 blacks, and you have a death row population of 10 and half of them are black and half of them are white, then that means 5/50= 10% blacks on death row and 5/100= 5% whites on death row. Plus.... you need references. So, although more numbers of whites may be executed than blacks, if you don't account for the population percentage of representation for each race, then the research data is invalid and unuseful. It can be compared to killing a thousand ants to killing a thousand rhinos......

      September 16, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      percentage of population is irrelevant in this situation. people are sent to death row for only one thing and that's murder.
      if you have a population of 100 people and 10 of those people are green and 10 green people commit murder and no purple people do. then 100% of the death row inmates will be green, since they do 100% of the murders despite the population size.

      September 16, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      Morbis, the Emperor's clothes........

      September 16, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  4. Josh Maxus

    HA25 follow your advice

    September 16, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  5. morbus gravis

    as a scientist ill tell you why its good to execute people who commit crimes. first it take them out of the gene pool.
    humans esp Europeans, have become self domesticated. we did it to ourselves gradually. just like how dogs got domesticated and horses and cattle. its the same process.
    humans as they came to live in towns and citys they would remove (execute) people that caused harm to other humans. eventually man became docile. (domesticated) by removing the violent people.
    and just like domesticated dogs who have smaller brains then wolves, todays humans have smaller brains then our ancestors due to domestication.
    this is all scientific fact.
    and humans if they want peace should remove any violent person from the gene pool.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh Maxus

      Different logic for me Morbus. Let me understand – so people can become docile and have smaller brains? I don't think so. I am ok with execution to compensate a 100% proven guilty cold-blooded murderer. Period. Frankly, as a Christian I am not even certain that is biblical after the new testament came to be... but I am imperfect.

      September 16, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      Ever read "Mein Kamf"?

      September 16, 2011 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Hung Low

      For the "scientist": Your writing is terrible!

      September 16, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • You're Wrong

      That might be one of the most un-intelligent posts ever. Human cranial capacity has more than tripled as compared to other members of our ancestral tree. You are a horrible scientist. Try 500 cubic centimeters several million years ago versus our current 1500. Which number is larger? I'll give you a hint. It's not 500.

      September 16, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • astounded

      As an evolutionary ecologist I am astounded that someone would hire you as a scientist (you don't mention what kind of scientist so that may be a bit harsh). The suitability of genes is highly influence by the environment and chance plays a major role in survivability and suitability of any set of genes. There are lots of good reasons why genetic engineering is controversial. I like the comment about mein kampf.

      September 16, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  6. Neece

    Better that ten guilty persons walk free than that one innocent man executed.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  7. DT1979

    It's unfortunate that this has turned into a race issue. Davis was convicted in 1991 by a jury of his peers (7 black 5 white) in Georgia State court. His case was reviewed by the Supreme Court of the US which ordered a FEDERAL District Court review of the evidence. After a re-hearing of the evidence, a Federal District judge concluded that Davis "vastly overstates the value of his evidence of innocence." Davis then appealed this decision to the US Supreme Court once again, who refused to revisit the issue. For the people who bash the State of Georgia and make comments with racial overtones you should take a good hard look at the procedural history of this case. It has gone through all channels of justice, state and federal. To say he didn't get a fair trial because he was black and in the south is downright absurd.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      To deny that white cops collected the evidence to convict him, and to deny that witnesses say they were influenced by the cops to make their statements....... is unmistakeably neglectful. So he gets a retrisl. At what harm is it if he is found correctly guilty? .... or correctly not guilty? What are you to fear?

      September 16, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • DT1979

      Thor....I don't "fear" anything or for that matter I could actually care less being that I have no stake in whatever happens one way or the other in this case. I am curious to know why you feel that the color of the skin of the offices played a role in Davis' conviction? Do you have any proof other than a knee-jerk reaction that the officer's skin color led to this man's conviction? I simply pointed out that this case has exhausted all legal avenues, both state and federal. The Supreme Court of the United States has denied his last appeal. Are you implying that the US Supreme Court is condoning some sort of racial bias on behalf of white police officers? Do you realize that the Chief of Police of Savannah-Chatham Metro PD is black, or that fellow officers of slain Officer McPhail who worked the case in 1989 were black? What is your point?

      September 16, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dachatt

    I think this guy was wrongly convicted.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  9. SHADES

    trial by jury, guilty...
    unless there is further proof on the defendants side, such as an iron clad alibi.
    you have to execute him, its the law

    September 16, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      There is new evidence..... I suggest you read the case.

      September 16, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  10. azazel

    His victims didn't have the luxury of a painless death like Davis will. This man killed more then one person and was convicted in both cases. So I guess he didn't commit either murder. Its just the racist south and its skinhead agenda that got him convicted. Just like every other black man in prison. Theys all innocents. Lethal injection is to rewarding. Firing squad, electrocution, should be the methods used to execute. The last moments of a monsters life should be filled with great pain and not silence. A real man admits his wrong doings and takes responsibility for them. Something many of these cowards don't do even though there supposed to be badass criminals.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      I like your line of thinking

      September 16, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      Because your very warrant that is given to proclaim the right to kill this man is associated with certain peoples religion... I think it is the Judeo Christian god; that very religion teaches a phrase "Vengence is mine sayth the Lord thy God." Death should not be exacted by an executioner in a vengeful manner. You are already taking away everything that person ever had, or ever will have. Death is the ultimate punishment for some in this life. It is not a real man who tortures. Death from real men comes in quick form; it is silent, swift, and sure.

      September 16, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  11. SHADES

    just to be clear, this man has sat on death row not shouting to the high heavens his innocence, then 22 years later on the mere eve of his execution, he starts making noise? put yourself in the shoes of an innocent man, I would have no voice left from the 22 years of shouting if I was innocent.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      You obviously have not read the many years of appeals this man has filed.... have you?

      September 16, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. SeanNJ

    Why has this become an either/or proposition? Commute his sentence to life in prison without parole, and let him use his new evidence and witness recantations to win an appeal.

    Just because the guy isn't executed doesn't mean he just gets to walk free. Why are people so damn stupid?

    September 16, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      Because the evidence is defective that was used to convict him.

      September 16, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      there is no "new evidence" perhaps you can state what this "new evidence" is??? even the flawed cnn story does not state any new evidence

      September 16, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      Morbis, Morbis, Morbis.... tsk tsk..... you are not reading again .... are you? The "new" evidence is what was "new" AFTER the trial was concluded. THAT new evidence was that the cops influenced the witnesses testimonies. If the cops did that, then, the witnesses testimonies are completely invalid. If the cops influenced the witnesses, then any evidence that was connected to this case, except physical evidence and video (more physical) evidence is suspect. The case, in order for it's outcome to be trusted by the REST of the WHITE world, needs to be retried. If there is nothing wrong with the original outcome, then the prosecutor should have no problem with a new trial. It appears to me that there is fear in retrying the case ..... for whatever reasons. I am strongly suspecting that the prosecutor knows something has been hidden from the jury before and does not want it to be revealled, or risk it being revealled, and I think the prosecutor is starting to seem to cover up for bad cops.

      September 16, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      If every verdict could be set aside by the casual acceptance of a witness's changing his mind or suggesting uncertainty, decades after the event, it is easy to see how many cases would have to be tried at least twice (perhaps ad infinitum).

      Thus the law sets strict standards for such "newly discovered" evidence.

      For example, it cannot be for a lack of diligence that the new evidence was not discovered sooner, and the defendant is expected to present that evidence at the earliest possible time.

      Yet these affidavits were not offered in a motion for new trial until eight days before the first scheduled execution in 2008 seventeen years after Davis' conviction. If this affidavit evidence was so compelling, why didn't they rush to seek a new trial in 2003 when they had most of the affidavits they now rely upon? Or collect those affidavits earlier?

      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.

      September 16, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      now will you admit thor there is no new evidence since the recants have already been reviewed?

      September 16, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      My concern is not about your timeline. My concern is that people who testified at a trial, now say that their statements were influence by the police. THAT is worthy of pause .... at a minimum. THAT puts both you and I at risk when living or travelling through these jurisdictions. THAT is scarey. Solve that riddle first, retry on the REAL evidence, then kill Davis if warranted. But...... when there are so many people, much smarter than I, including members of congress, and a president.... who is a former governor of a very familiar named state..... all who have doubt about the evidence; one must at sometime regard the evidence of which is so difficult to recognize when it grows from the center of ones face.

      September 16, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • SeanNJ

      @morbus gravis: Why do you want him dead so badly? Keeping him locked up for life isn't enough?

      September 16, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • SeanNJ

      @Thor: You said, "Because the evidence is defective that was used to convict him."

      So you're agreeing with me then, I think.

      I'm not suggesting he go free tomorrow. I'm just saying there's no value in killing him, and I'm trying to understand the comments here that somehow think the only options are execution or release from prison. He can still win his release on a later appeal, but not if we kill him next week.

      September 16, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. RH

    If there are any doubts and conflicting statements, then this man should not be executed until these are cleared up. Give him a new trial or give him life sentence, whatever, but hold the needle. The slain man will not be given justice if the wrong man dies for the crime. His family deserves the truth and the real criminal must pay, be it this man or another. But do it the right way.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      they have already checked into it for 20 years now, there is no new evidence, that clears him. 29 judges have confirmed that hes guilty along with the original jury

      September 16, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      Morbis.... they have not said anything more than they have doubt about some of the prosecutions evidence and that they "think" that Davis' evidence is based on "smoke and mirrors" . Witness tampering is smoke and mirrors? Sounds like bad cops to me. Seems like a case for the US Marshalls to step in on Presidential Order. .... same thing use to convict cops that beat up Rodney King resulting in huge riots. And why are you so committed to killing this man anyway?

      September 16, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jim

    Let's not forget this dude was there anyhow, he is not innocent. I'm sure he deserves what he will soon get.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jim

    I guarantee if he didn't call this cop, he probably killed other people anyhow. KARMA BABY!!

    September 16, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
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