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. Jj

    why is it that criminals have more rights than victims now a days? liberal incrementalism at its worst.

    September 15, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • CW

      Awww JJ... You sound angry. What if this man is indeed innocent? Does that mean nothing to you?

      September 15, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nisroc

      no physical evidence means not 100% sure he is guilty

      September 15, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bert

      Why is it that the conservatives don't have the stomach to punish murderers anyway? The first thing they want to do is execute them. What kind of punishment is that? You just don't have the guts for proper punishment.

      September 15, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leopold

      So you're saying this would be the first case where an innocent man was found guilt in a court of law?

      September 15, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • ridiculous

      And you once again prove conservatism stupidity at it's best. I'm so tired of hearing ridiculous comments from obvious idiots and it always seems to come from the right. I can see why the right is in such a hurry to scrap education and why they have such hatred for Ivy League schools. Education of any kind makes them look like the idiots they are.

      September 15, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • wilddog13

      i was on the jury he was as guilty as sin

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

      JJ, why do you feel that criminals have more rights than victims? The fact that we follow due process means that rights are taken away from victims? What are you talking about here? Are you going to present a rational arguement at any point? HAHAHAH, I love it that everyone is ignoring Wilddogs claim to have been on the jury. LOL

      September 16, 2011 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jj

    The lawyers will say he had fetal alcohol syndrome or something stupid like that even tho the libs say a fetus is not a person

    September 15, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • CW

      JJ, please learn English and use it properly, because this is complete drivel and an absolutely absurd argument because it doesn't even address this case.

      September 15, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      CW – you might be writing using proper English but JJ's argument is very valid. Liberals only care about murderers' rights "because "they're humans". At the same time they'll fight tooth and nail for women's right to execute, I'm sorry to abort their fetuses. Hypocrites!!!

      September 15, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Uncle Fester

      Julie – so, you want to execute a man that may very well be innocent, because, in your mind, that will show liberals what idiots they are for supporting a woman's right to choose? If that is not your logic, than in what way is the abortion issue relevant to this case?

      September 15, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • wilddog13

      i was on the jury he is as guilty as sin

      September 15, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      JJ is right. Abortion/Obama are to blame here. Evolution too.

      September 16, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  3. raven

    I watched a Dateline about this case . Left with more questions than answers. That was a long time ago and it doesnt sound like theyve resolved much since then .

    September 15, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • wilddog13

      i was on the jury . there were about 15 witnesses

      September 15, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Newtime

    I have lived in the South, I know first hand what they are capable of doing! He should be given a new trial!

    September 15, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jj

    So why should cops even care about their job? when citizens destroy neighborhoods because of rage and we are asked to "understand" and "sympathize," what we are being asked is to have compassion for rage.

    September 15, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • aaron

      Jj, it is very easy to speculate while on a computer in your home. But, the fact of the matter, is that the evidence accusing him is as tainted, if not more, than the evidence defending him. Furthermore, there is zero evidence to suggest that the death penalty is aiding in the safety of our neighborhoods. So, please save your conservative rants for FOX' website, as I'm sure you will find a home there.

      September 15, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • MrLogan

      @ JJ: None of your statements have anything to do with the topic at hand; please don't get drunk before posting.

      September 15, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. avenue

    He should have been executed a long time ago. May this officer finally get to rest in peace.

    September 15, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • street

      Executing a man that may be innocent is going to help the officer rest in peace?

      September 15, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sean

    Looking past the ethical quandary that is capital punishment- for the sake of fiscal responsibility, this dude should have been killed 22 years ago. The appeals process and cost of incarceration alone probably has cost over ten million dollars. I like turtles.

    September 15, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      I was going to disagree with your post until I saw the last line. Carry on, good sir.

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

    NAACP and Al Sharpton and involved = this guy is more than likely guilty of what he was charged with.

    September 15, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Derrick

      Racist much????

      September 15, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • wilddog13

      you are correct. I was on the jury

      September 15, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Realitybites

      No Adam,
      It only means it's a high profile case that would bring national attention to Sharpton, whom I have very little respect for. It by no means indicates innocence or guilt.

      September 16, 2011 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jj

    what about the rage of cops who see their efforts thwarted daily by a system which returns an endless parade of human debris to the streets to commit more crime?

    September 15, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve harnack

      They can just do what they usually do, go home and beat the wife and kids.

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

      So by that logic, you're saying a man should be put to death when there is a significant enough doubt of his guilt because policemen would feel justice is being done. I seriously doubt that.

      September 16, 2011 at 6:42 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff

    On what grounds is the recantation more believable than the testimony given in court? Maybe it could be the possibility of the witnesses being pressured. Would that make a difference?

    September 15, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jj

    what about ve rage of cops who have to track deadly drug dealers who earn millions violating the law while they, the cops, earn a comparative pittance trying to enforce it? how about a little "understanding" and "sympathy" for them and what they face everyday?

    September 15, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. HandfulOfPeter

    "On what grounds are the recantations more believable than the testimony in court? None."
    "On what grounds are the recantations less believable than the testimony in court? None."

    September 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Realitybites

      Nice one!

      September 16, 2011 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  13. alex george

    This innocencent man has no chance in the racist south. God bless his poor innocencent soul and god curse the racist.

    September 15, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • turtles are fun

      how do you know for sure he is innocent? I'm from the south, and Im not racist. You my friend are an IDIOT

      September 16, 2011 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  14. Starwynd

    I don't believe the death penalty should be handed down unless there is incontrovertible forensic evidence to prove the case for murder. This is my opinion.

    September 15, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jim

    repugs are "pro life" except when it comes to innocent black men – then it's"let the n***a hang". may the same fate befall one of your children and you suffer eternally....

    September 15, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • cb

      repugs are pro life until it exits the uterus. After that, it's to hell with it.

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