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. Apa

    Several sources have quoted the prosecution as saying they have paid attention to the people recanting or contradicting their testimonies. What, exactly, was done? When seven of the nine witnesses come forward and say "I made a mistake" or mess up their stories, that is a huge deal. How can that testimony still be considered credible? Unless the remaining pair of witnesses have photographic memories (highly unlikely), the witness testimonies must be re-examined, and Mr. Davis should not be executed.

    September 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. yes! DO ITT!

    keeping him in jail only adds up f-cking tax dollars and personally a killer isn't worth mine, i dont care who the hell you killed its not worth keeping you. Liberals are so naive and want to hold and cuddle with him for whats he been through, he deserved it. Meet him, i bet hes nasty to even be around, and liberals won't realize that until they been around people like him, i have and their nasty and they wouldn't give a sht about you so why care about them. Treat them how they treat you not treat them how you want to be treated.less people like that guy is good for the country, now get rid of the rest of them.

    September 19, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kathy

    Where this is the slightest doubt, and in this case there seems to be a lot of doubt – no physical evidence, witnesses recanting etc, a person should not be executed. It is barbaric in any case to keep someone in prison for 20+ years and then execute. I perceive this to be cruel and unusual punishment. Whilst the victim's mother states that she will only have peace when he is executed, I personally think that after 20+ years, given the prisoner was only 20 when the crime occured, I would have grown sufficiently in my life to realize that there is another mother and family out there who have already suffered for 20+ years too and allow this person to live. He has already been punished sufficiently by his incarceration, whether guilty or innocent. Can all the protesters againsdt this execution be wrong? I don't believe so and I believe that this man's life should be spared.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Jean-Paul MAHE

      Desath penalty is crual and unusual punishment. Moreover, killing a man without absolute evidence of guityness is barbaric. Pity for that man ! USA cannot be witt Afganistan, Saudi Arabia, Lycia, Pakistan and China one of the only remaining nations practising death penalty, and the only one among occidental people ! What a shame if Troy Davis's innocence is proven one day. I shall pray for thét man. May God forgive USA.

      September 20, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sunita

    this is barbaric!!!

    September 20, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. philippe

    Pas assez de preuves pour cette sanction. Accordez la grâce à cet homme.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |


    September 20, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rene

    My husband and I have been opponents of the Death Penalty forever! This is sickening and cruel. Who are we to play God? There is a lack of evidence and witnesses have recanted. I do not understand how this can happen. Our prayers are with Troy Davis and his family.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dave Harvey Free Troy Davis!!!

    September 20, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Auggydoggie

    Call up Oblamo. He'll pardon anyone, even someone convicted of capital murder. Still guilty after all these years, just convenient that he's black, another protected class citizen... .. King, Simpson, Snoop, Tyson, Kobi, Davis et al. Always a pass, always a bye, no accountability. All the rights and privileges, zero responsibility, zero culpability. You don't see folks standing up for people like Gacey, Bundy, Miller et al. Difference? Demographics, period.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jess

      Did you really bring up Bundy? They found Physical and Forensic evidence against him to convict. He even confessed after he was convicted. Why would someone stand up for Bundy when he was clearly guilty. There isn't enough physical evidence to justify killing this man.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  10. Lee Hunter

    Where's the justice system now? It's a shame this dear brother can't get a fair trial . It's so obvious that he's innocent. His innocent blood will be on your hands

    September 20, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Phyllis Hunter

    Free Troy Davis

    September 20, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lillian Engelson


    September 21, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  13. [Prof.] Francis Pott

    The notion that recantations are less credible than the original testimonies is chilling, in that it underlines how the possibility of executing an innocent man is no issue for the judiciary. One witness was filmed stating unequivocally that if she had known previously what she knows now, Davis would not be where he currently is. There is a strong whiff of the judiciary distorting its version of past events in order to support an outcome about which it has no intention of changing its mind, regardless of what anybody says. As a white UK citizen I find this abhorrent, misguided and utterly depressing in what it says about the future for black Americans and their fair and just treatment. As the person above rightly says, no one should die while there is even a shred of doubt. I would go further and say no one should die, period, but in the case at hand it is indeed the likelihood of Davis's innocence that drives the argument.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      Why does he deserve special treatment because he is black? Why is this about race at all? Why do people like you not look at the facts and instead read random posts on the internet and feel you need to express your opinion on something you don't really understand? The guy was convicted of Shooting another guy in the face hours earlier, with the same freaking gun. He was beating up a homeless man for a beer when the cop intervened. Why is it that the witnesses waited 20 years to recant.. but suddenly their recanting is more valuable than the testimony they originally gave?

      September 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rachel

    This is one of the most unjust sights my generation will witness. WITHOUT REASONABLE DOUBT!!! THERE IS REASONABLE DOUBT. Casey Anthony goes scot-free, but this man gets the death penalty.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  15. Irving

    Esta ejecucion debe ser suspendida inmediatamente!!! No hay evidencia fisica, demasiadas dudas y un ser humano va a morir con tal de satisfacer a no se sabe quien. Esto es puro barbarismo.
    This execution shold be suspended inmediately!!! there is no physical evidence, too much doubts about the case and a human being is going to die in order to satisfied who knows who or what. It is simply barbaric.

    September 21, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
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