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. fahrenheit451bookstore

    How do you incarcerate, execute, or murder, a person with no physical evidence; with recanted or contradicted testimony, ambiguity, conjecture and a little bit of racism. Don't you just stop the execution. (I am not supporting capital punishment myself) to err on the side of life and morality. Why would you even have to think about it. To execute another human being without proper evidence what are we wild animals. I thought we were an inteligent life form...Guess not! STOP THE EXECUTION fah451bks

    September 15, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • majorsdad

      isnt it always racism......always the wrong guy......put a pair of reading glasses on and play dumb....

      September 15, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • dmx01

      Clearly, jury was convinced beyond reasonable doubt of his guilt.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • tanwalker

      @dmx01:

      Yeah based on witness testimony....well now, 7 of the 9 have recanted......many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements.

      September 15, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. pat carr

    i'm a strong advocate of the death penalty but in the light of this flimy case, it should not go ahead

    September 15, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Frangible

      I agree. I'm all for murderers getting what's coming to them, but there's no real evidence here.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. larry

    They need to contact Eric Holder the AG. He decides which laws he like and does not like. Maybe Troy Davis could join the New Black Panthers and then there would be no execution for sure.

    September 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • rab2774

      You sir, are a pig!

      September 15, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • turtles are fun

      this is a common sense comment!

      best iv read so far!

      September 16, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. Abcd

    A killer MOM,Casey anthony is free due to lack of evidence. This guy is going to death row with no much evidence that he did the crime and now more witness saying he is not the killer... If casey can be freed ,he definetly can be freed for lack of evidence.
    This is rascism. pure racism.

    September 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Doug

    Classic example of why the Death Penalty should be abolished. Doug.

    September 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dangerous Dan

      I think in this case if they don't have all the evidence to prove him Guilty in the first place set him free or commute the death sentence. Seems people are always against the death penalty until something happens to them or someone they love then see how they change their minds.As far as race is concerned if its Black on White its a misunderstanding but if its White on Black then it racist.Is that right ? You people that play the race game make me sick. I am White and as I see it Blacks have just as much right to anything I have a right to.Actually Blacks have more rights because they never stop crying about Race.
      Get over it already.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. P man

    at 2:03, you see a confederate flag in the court house

    September 15, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. PastySkinRhetoric

    A pasty skin like Casey Anthony people were defending her claiming there was no proof and that she was innocent. But since he is darker they want him to hang. Typical pasty skins.

    September 15, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • pr

      Each had their day in court and each recieved justice. Davis was found guity and derserved what he gets. Anthony was aquitted and deseraves what she get.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jimbo

    A good Christian would never stop an execution.

    September 15, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Amy

      Which Christ do you follow? Not the one I know.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ricky P.

      Dear Jimbo, As a supposed Christian you must remember that good ol' Jesus was wrongly executed about 2000 years ago. It was a bad idea then and still is.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark

      Aww come on, Jimbo, what would you know about being a good Christian anyway? You're probably just another anti God, know nothing Liberal that would just as soon let all the murders go free, unless and until they get one of your family members. Then lets see how open minded you are, what a joke.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Logic

      Thats especially funny since christ himself stopped an execution in of the most famous bible passages ever. Bravo sir :)

      September 15, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Creaturz

    It's not about righting a wrong people. It's about Justice. It's about the punishment fitting the crime. This guy should have been executed years ago, instead, he's been living on taxpayer money since 89??? Phht.

    September 15, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alice Cooper

      And this my dear friend is why I believe every state should have the death penalty. Every murderer and child molester should be put down like a sick animal.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Logic

      Except that this guy didnt do it. We screwed up and convicted the wrong man. It happens. ..and he's apparently going to die for it. .But hey we're all bloodlusting conservofacists now. So by all means. .kill another n*gger. .. Hayseeds. All of you.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. alan

    Yeah if he's so innocent then allow the prosecution to test the blood on his clothes and let the review board use the results to decide. Oh that's right don't want to do that because that would prove he doesn't have a leg to stand on because he did it. Game over.

    September 15, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. infonomics

    Of course Troy Davis did not kill Mark MacPhail.
    Moreover, Troy was also wrongly convicted of shooting Michael Cooper earlier the same evening.
    The shell casing found at the scene of MacPhail, matching those at the Cooper scene–just a coincidence.
    Also, those bloody shorts of Troy Davis, yea, that's not fair to retrieve incriminating evidence.
    Recantations? The truth is always better the second time around.
    Now that I think about it, maybe MacPhail is not even dead.

    September 15, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • tanwalker

      Some of you need to read about Sylvester "Redd" Coles.....Davis became the prime suspect in the case when Sylvester Coles told the Savannah police department that Troy was the killer....Coles is one of the other 2 witnesses who is sticking by his story along with another witness who is also sticking by his story; his name is Stephen Sanders. At trial Stephen Sanders said 'You don't forget someone who stands over and shoots someone." However, during cross, it was revealed that he originally told police that he wouldn't be able to identify the shooter....memory usually gets fuzzier over time.

      September 15, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. wendy5

    wrong if they kill him with that many people supporting him

    September 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alice Cooper

      Look at how many people supported Osama Bin Laden. Are you saying we should've let him go to?

      September 15, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Alice Cooper

    Fry Him

    September 15, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Ricky P.

    Thou shalt not kill. Pretty simple really. Taking a life is murder. Whether you are a gang-banger, a state court, or an invading army in search of WMD does not matter.

    September 15, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alice Cooper

      So if someone killled everyone you know, you think they should have the right to walk free?

      September 15, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frangible

      Actually "thou shalt not kill" is an incorrect translation. "murder" is the correct translation. Don't believe me, go re-translate the source text yourself.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. infonomics

    “Example of a recantatio­n (Amnesty Internatio­nal's website):

    Antoine Williams, an Eyewitness
    “They asked me to describe the shooter and what he looked like and what he was wearing. I kept telling them that I didn’t know. It was dark, my windows were tinted, and I was scared. It all happened so fast. Even today, I know that I could not honestly identify with any certainty who shot the officer that night. I couldn’t then either. After the officers talked to me, they gave me a statement and told me to sign it. I signed it. I did not read it because I cannot read.”

    Highlights­:

    Antoine signs statements that he cannot read.
    Antoine cannot read but he has flawless grammatica­l prose, evident with his affidavit above.
    Antoine implies tinted windows obscured his vision yet he drives with tinted windows.
    Antoine's memory improves with time.
    Antoine does not cite duress from police as so many others do.
    Which Antoine do we believe, the one above or the one with the original testimony of “60% sure Davis was the shooter”? Not 59.7548889­0%, not 51%, not 65% but 60%.

    The value of Antoine's recantatio­n derives from the value of his original statement. If his original statement is bogus or suspect, then what is he really recanting? Nothing of value.

    Read the other recantatio­ns, many of which are the equivalent of "the devil made me do it [original testimony]­." They all have the same beautiful prose, just like Antoine's.”

    September 15, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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