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. Chimmee Chooowww

    663,000 people need to find better ways to spend their time.

    September 16, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Cyrus

      of the 663,000 . how many signed because they just are against the death penalty? How many signed because the dude is black – regardless if they think he did it? How may signatures were forged? (some always happens) How many didnt really know what they were signing or were misled about it?

      Just asking questions.

      September 16, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      I think it' time well spent when trying to prevent a wrongful death. ...And... how many of the 663,000 signed because they feel he is not guilty? "Just asking!"

      September 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. romw2894

    I suspect there is really no new credible evidence. The appeals court has already ruled this in their 172 page opinion. However, all the liberal bleeding hearts out there without a shred of information about what they are talking are crying for his release.

    September 16, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  3. Christian Chris

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also." – Jesus, Matthew 5:38-39
    It is sad to me that many of my fellow Christians are quick to quote the old testament when justifying ending a life, but ignore the teachings of Jesus Christ; the one we should be following.

    September 16, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chucky McLovin

      Jesus was an evil cult leader that required his followers to hate their families and hate themselves (Luke 14:26). It's a good thing Jesus is imaginary and the bible is a book of lies and myths 🙂

      September 16, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scarf

      I don't follow delusional fiction that is any religion. Common sense works much better.

      September 16, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christian Chris

      Good to know there are mature people on CNN

      September 16, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • rh

      So wait a second, Jesus says we should let evil people hurt and kill us and our loved ones?

      Maybe that's why there are so many atheists...

      September 16, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Brian in COlorado

    They had me going until I got to the line that said Sharpton was involved. The credibility factor went down at that point. I don't know if he did or not. I wasn't there and I wasn't there during the trial to see the evidence. The only question I have is this: Are the witnesses that are now recanting being arrested for perjury and facing the HIGHEST charges possible ?

    September 16, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chucky McLovin

      Why not lock up the pigs that threatened and scared the witnesses???

      September 16, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian in COlorado

      That too, Chucky, But I'm still not willing to let them off the hook for their perjured testimony, regardless of the reason.

      September 16, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bobby

    For all those that say the DP don't work, look how desperate this man is to save his life. He has had 22 years to think about this. Now that he is close to death, look at all the activity. So, the hope is he is turned loose and then no charges brought against those that lied under oath sending an innocent man to death row? Just forget the whole thing. I bet the cop wishes he was so lucky.

    September 16, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chucky McLovin

      Look at all the people that still murder! The death penalty doesn't work. People like you that support it are evil fascists and not any better than the murderers.

      September 16, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • JJC

      Saying that someone who is scared because they are about to die proves that the death penelty is a deterent is like saying that someone dying of lung cancer and being scared is a deterent to others who wish to smoke. The DS wasn't enough to deter the killer before he took the action. You logic is very faulty.

      September 16, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dan

    Rev Al Sharpton..nuff' said

    September 16, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. WVLady63


    September 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chucky McLovin

      This just shows how odious and nefarious you are. You think just because I don't believe a book without evidence for it and mountains of evidence against it, that I deserve to be tortured. Furthermore, you believe that the majority of men, women, children and babies should be and will be tortured forever. You're sick, ignorant and evil. Peace & Love 🙂

      September 16, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ggkthxnore

    American revenge justice, a failed system, at work.

    Why do we continue our failed system of revenge justice? We have easily the worst criminal justice system i the 1st world.

    September 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • rh

      It is not revenge, it is protecting the public from the criminally insane and irredeemable.

      You could also look at killing psychopaths as doing them a big favor and relieving them of the voices in their head.

      September 16, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jay

    Guilty or not, convicted in 1989 should equal punishment in 1989.

    September 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. biggins08

    I used to think that the death penalty was a good thing. But the fact that some of these alleged perpetrators are on death row without much, if any, tangible physical evidence linking them to the crime is very troublesome. Couple that with the fact that many prosecutors tend to be a bit over the top with capital punishment trials (in order to make a name for themselves as being tough on crime), and that usually the defendants don’t have enough money for a lawyer and have to rely on a state defense lawyer (there’s a reason they are state lawyers and don’t work for private law firms), and I really don’t see any need for state sponsored capital punishment. Death is very quick and easy; a lifetime spent confined in prison, being assaulted and having to watch your back every second of every day for the rest of your life I think is an excellent punishment. And, to defray the cost to tax payers, the inmates should be forced to work and produce some kind of product the state can sell, or even just clean up along road sides or cut grass for the state. Helps them to learn some valuable skills on the odd chance they ever get out of prison again. And if the inmates refuse to work I’m sure the prisons have ways of making uncooperative inmates very cooperative. Most of these criminals understand that they could be killed out on the streets at any time (one of the cons to their line of work) and they are ok with that, because it’s a quick death. Being locked up in a box with 3 other big sweaty guys that don’t necessarily all get along for years on end would be much more stressful, and who knows, could make some criminals pause a bit and think before they go do something really stupid.

    September 16, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. YeahThatsNice

    I'm more disgusted at the fact that a conviction was reached in 1989 but it's taken until 2011 to kill the man. When it takes 22 years to execute someone after conviction, clearly something is wrong with your system.

    September 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dboy009

    What if it where you?

    September 16, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. marc

    A white mother in North Carolina kills her 10 year old little girl and dismembers her body tells the court that she did it and gets 14 years in prison for not first degree but second degree murder. This guy shoots a cop with no real proof that he did it and is sentenced to the chair, talk about a white justice system.

    September 16, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. chad

    Actually, data was reported in the USA Today that the death penalty saves between 4 and 13 lives per society does benefit. And even if one "innocent" person dies, more people live.

    In this case however, they need to re-examine all of the new evidence as it is not called the "dirty south" for no reason.

    September 16, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. rh

    For every one person on death row who may be innocent, there are MILLIONS of people who are harmed or killed by felons released because "they are redeemed". Why don't we have a look at the numbers of violent crimes committed by people who are set free after they received parole for "being good in jail"? Then compare that to the few who *might* have been executed wrongly.

    September 16, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
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