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. Mary

    I don't believe in the death penalty at all, no matter what. I can speak from experience. My son, Tyrell Nolen at age 17 was murdered, shot multiple times and left to die on a street corner. His killer Kevin Sutton was 18. No, I don't think he should be executed, but yes spend his 40 years to life in prison. He should be made to work hard and pay his own way in prison. If there is the SLIGHTEST chance that Troy Davis may be innocent then he should be afforded all means to prove his innocence. We know that Courts, Judges, Jurors make mistakes, look at the Anthony trial, perfect example. What if Mr. Davis was your relative, family member.And I certainly do understand the families concerns and feelings of the victim. But the victim was a police officer and even he would want the right person convicted. If Mr Davis is innocent, the killer is still out there. Prisoners should be made to work and earn their keep, pay for any schooling or classes and degrees they earn. The kid that killed my beautiful son can get a pretty decent education whiles he's doing his time. My other children had to go into debt to get their education. Fair? No, of course not. But he should not be executed either. Life in prison, fine for me. •MARY•

    September 15, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • dog4dog

      the witnesses should be sentenced to ten years in prison, you don't lie on the stand on a murder trial, that is serious in my book, 1991 in georgia, there is a good chance they got the wrong black person for it, right georgia?, cause you already know it was a black man so why not just take life from this one, that is the cops mentality as well as the people back then, the blacks should waste some of those witnesses, and the dude should be paid a $100k from each one of them

      September 15, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • tanwalker


      "Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were
      pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy

      September 15, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • ofcourse

      Of course they were coerced, how do cops get people to turn on each other? to bare false witness? to tell them what they want to hear? THEY THREATEN THE SCARED PERSON being interrogated TO DEATH- yielding the massive powers law enforcement has. They intimidate them, corner them, gang up on them in they're interrogation rooms, play mind games with them, make up lies designed to get them to react, lie about things they have said or done- exagerate the truth about things they have said or done. They threaten to charge them with the crime (even though they know, they didn't do it- else they would be interrogating them about someone else). Just turn on your, TV- and watch cops- they are proud of they're acitons, and brag about it- and expect the citizenry to be impressed.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. Andy

    @alex george, that's because he isn't innocent. The clothes he left at his mother's house proves he did it unfortunately while the police just cause to enter the house and search the premises they didn't have a search warrant(which by law they didn't need since there was just cause), now the mother claims she didn't give permission to search the house and the judge ruled in her favor which he shouldn't have. Davis' mother should be charged with obstruction of justice to boot.

    September 15, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dcheney

    If Al Sharpton is involved he must be innocent. What a clown.

    September 15, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jj

    @avirgintomorrow hows that cushy job at cnn?? whos the troll now???

    September 15, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ricky Perry

    Well in a couple of years something will happen and he'll be found innocent. Then they'll exhume him and give him the good news.

    September 15, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • tanwalker

      Exactly! Which is why he needs a new trial!

      September 15, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. hector-CA

    America says "Do not kill" and then America kills...need I say more

    September 15, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Turp Griswald

    An eye for an eye. That's what Jesus said. And we know how much you southerner Baptists follow the word.

    September 15, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • dudley041518

      That was not all Jesus said. He was explaining the folly of that doctrine. If you are going to misquote God, you may first wish to make completely sure that he does not exist. Just sayin'.

      September 15, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • svann

      Im not sure if that is sarcasm, but Jesus NEVER said that. An eye for an eye was the old way. Jesus brought the new way. Jesus said if a man slaps you then turn and offer him the other cheek.

      September 15, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • kirk

      Jesus said to turn the other cheek.. He did not say an Eye for an eye.. The Eye for an eye is Old Hebrew text

      September 15, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • EMcK

      Actually, what Jesus said was "You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

      “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."

      If you're going to use religion, you really SHOULD actually know what your chosen religion says.

      September 17, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • ofcourse

      Thank you EMck, yes Christianity is about forgiveness- salvation– not revenge and lynch mob mentality. One of Christs last words were "forgive them they know not what they do"- oh well I guess all that is meaningless to the US justice system, after all they wear robes and that elevates them to a higher authority.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
  8. aJ

    September 15, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Vezalo

    Most people, with a few exceptions, have never even heard of this case. Read the other stories before making any judgement. CNN puts a story out, names Al Sharpton, and everyone thinks this cop killer is innocent. Do some research, then comment.

    September 15, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • cyndi

      you obviously have not been playing close attention are reading what has been reported on both sides of this issue, it's very clear to me that troy davis did not kill the police officer. rev. sharpton is not the only one asking for a new trial and clemancy. Pope Benedict the 16th, former pres. jimmy carter, former u.s. rep. bob barr, former fbi director session's, and many more other noteable people and some are pro-death penality. I am only for the death penalty in certain situations and very few. also, where is the justice for the poor family of the off-duty police officer who was killed. for 20 years the real killier has been free and some individuals claim they know who it is and he's admitted to killing the officer. i feel deeply sorry for both families, what a terrible roller-coaster ride they have all been thru, because this case was not properly judicated!!! this whole case is disgusting and the killing of troy davis must be stopped. let's not send another innocent person to their death!!!

      September 15, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MLS

    Killed a cop, arrested, tried, convicted, appeal, convicted- 22 years
    Now all of the sudden when it is time to die we are expected to believe innocent
    Witnesses say they were coerced- How do we know that are not being coerced now?
    Physical evidence existed but thrown out on legal technicality
    Time to pay the price

    September 15, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • However

      No, not all of a sudden. This is not the first time, the whole life of his term has been appeals. He just ran out! So now he needs the help of Society. What's wrong with asking for help?

      September 18, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  11. Sol

    I was all for supporting this until I saw Al Sharpton is involved. Sorry Troy Davis, I'd like my signature back please.

    September 15, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. svann

    "On what grounds are the recantations more believable than the testimony in court? "

    On the grounds that the presumption is innocent unless proven guilty.

    September 15, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      He WAS proven guilt, idiot?

      September 15, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • tanwalker


      Please don't go there....OJ?...Casey Anthony?

      September 15, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. GeoBoy

    We are all this man, if it were you or a loved one and witnesses recanted, you would want a retrial ... Minimum!

    September 15, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rick James

    I believe in slaves, prisoner slaves.
    Make them do all the work we hate for free. Save all that taxpayer money for more important people and tasks.

    September 15, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. GeoBoy

    We are all this man!

    If it were you or a loved one and witnesses recanted guaranteed you would want retrial ... Minimum

    September 15, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
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