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. Colossus

    """No physical evidence was presented linking Davis to the killing of the policeman"""

    aaaahhhh...................the 90's justice for blacks.

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


      September 15, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • 7TX

      "the 90's justice for blacks"

      Correction: t's justice for blacks.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • tim

      yea the "90's justice for blacks" you said it there.
      for example see case "People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson." This is a 90s case you should probably look into

      September 15, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • 7TX

      Tim when you're stupid enough:

      1. To come to court with a lying racist cop who has to plead the 5th so he doesn't incriminate himself.
      2. To have a stupid lead detective who takes the suspect's blood vile to the crime scene.
      3. Let the suspect try on gloves in court that don't fit.
      4. Have the leading forensic specialist in the country (Dr Lee) say that this evidence has been tampered with
      5. Have one of the leading DNA specialists in the country (Barry Scheck) say something has been tampered with.

      ...then you deserve to lose the case because you DID NOT PROVE IT.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. morbus gravis

    the govt does not have to put on counter demonstrations, to make arguments against the protesters, thats not how our justice system works, if it did casey anthony would be in jail. he was found guilty the jury saw Alllllllllllllll the evidence not the fairy tale the anti death penalty people are making up.
    the case has been reviewed and reviewed ove and over, and hes guilty.
    and there was physical evidence at the scene even though a crowd of lib nuts says there was not.

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

      READ the article. it says no physical evidence were presented.

      he was convicted in 1991, to convict a black guy during those days, he did not need to be guilty.

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

      Unless you were on the jury, or in the courtroom how do you know that there was physical evidence presented, Morbus Gravis? You claim the libs are making assumptions, it sounds like you are making a lot of assumptions. What is the hurry in executing this guy. Certainly you, Morbus Gravis, have heard of innocent people being convicted by a jury. What make you so sure that jury full of Georgia goobers were correct?

      September 15, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      there were 7 blacks on his jury and 5 whites....and as i siad there was physical evidence and a jury of his peers convicted him

      September 15, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      physical evidence~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~>>>>Crime lab tests proved that the shell casings recovered from the shooting of Michael Cooper at a party earlier in the evening were fired from the same weapon as the casings recovered from the scene of Officer Mark MacPhail's murder. Davis was convicted of shooting Cooper.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Executioner

      GUILTY !!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank You !

      September 15, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. morbus gravis

    First , Davis' advocates have insisted that there was no physical evidence in the case. This is not true.

    Crime lab tests proved that the shell casings recovered from the shooting of Michael Cooper at a party earlier in the evening were fired from the same weapon as the casings recovered from the scene of Officer Mark MacPhail's murder. Davis was convicted of shooting Cooper.

    And, while it isn't physical evidence, consider the "testimony" of Officer MacPhail himself: When he comes to the rescue of a homeless man being harassed and pistol-whipped, the officer ran past Sylvester Coles on his way to catch Davis. This makes Davis the only one of those two with a motive to shoot Officer MacPhail. Yet Davis' lawyers argue to condemn Coles for shooting MacPhail. Why would he?

    In fact, Davis' advocates are eager to condemn Coles based on evidence far weaker than their characterization of the evidence against Davis. Where is their sense of fairness? This is the same Sylvester Coles who promptly presented himself to police, and who was advised by counsel to tell all that he knew – with his lawyer not even present. Which he did. No lawyer who even faintly suspects a client of criminal conduct would let him talk to the police without counsel.

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

      "A ballistics expert testified at the trial that the .38 caliber bullet that killed Officer McPhail could possibly have been fired from the same gun that wounded Michael Cooper, although he admitted that he had "some doubt" about this."

      The only thing that matched was the caliber, but there was doubt whether the same gun fired both. Aside from that there is only testimony. How does that not leave reasonable doubt?

      September 15, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • CT

      Now, now, this is the age where every black convicted of a crime was the victim of "the (white) man", all of them are completely innocent.

      I imagine we'd be hearing from the Rev. Al Sharpton about releasing Charles Manson if he was black.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Col T

    This man should NOT be executed. If there is ever a shred of doubt, which there is in this case, the death penalty should NEVER carried out.

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

      he was convicted beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury. who saw alllllllllllllllllll the evidence...... all you hear and see is what the anti dp people want you to hear and see

      September 15, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • 7TX

      Morbus, the anti DP people didn't write this report for CNN. Situation Room is Wolf Blitzer. the way, this is the internet, not a cell phone text message so stop being lazy and creating stupid unnecessary abreviations.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • CT

      The jury saw all of the evidence. The jury decided that he was guilty "beyond a shadow of a doubt".

      September 15, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • andy H.

      This is absolutely correct. Death penalty is bad enough, but to use it when there is doubt aplenty is just flat wrong.

      – A

      September 15, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ricky P.

    Frangible, you are right and I stand corrected. Could you help me understand the difference? Thanks

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

    This is the thing that gets me, you have police officers accidentally kill an african american man and everyone accuses the cops of injustice. But when an african american man kills a police officer, suddenly they are the one's being served wrong. Cop killers have a special place reserved in hell for them, and this man will be going there in a few days. Amen.

    September 15, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Since when is any one human life more sacred than another? Is a cop so sacred that the one responsible for his death should be seated at the right hand of Lucy Fur? I thought we were all created equal. Maybe that was all a ruse to imply all of those not in the uniform of a law enforcement official are created equal and beneath the uniformed authority. I realize decent police officers are valuable folks, and nearly impossible to find these days. But no one human life is any more or less important than the next. We are all pretty damn important.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. xrev

    Why are judges afraid to put this evidence in front of a jury. It is a mans life at stake.

    September 15, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Musicdorian

      I second that motion.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      what evidence??? 29 judges have reviewed this case and all have come to the same conclusion! guilty.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. CBR

    Without physical evidence and with the recanting of testimony by so many involved in the trial, it would be wrong to kill this man until all avenues have been considered, There are too many death row cases. Whether you are for or against the death penalty I would hope we all agree that no one is sent to his death after being wrongly accused.

    To those who feel they have to make racist remarks, your voices are reminders that this Country is still very prejudiced and worse still has people who rush to write rude racist comments every time a person of color is on CNN or any other outlet. Comments can be made for any number of reasons but it is very sad to see them written so blatantly on CNN, The Boston Herald and every other media outlet who has made room for comments. One wonders if the reason for this dislike(I would not want to use the word hatred) which continually appears on the comment sections are done by folks who happen to think everyone is against them and they can not move forward because of these people. Do they have the same dislike of athletes in every sport? Probably not if the team is winner.

    September 15, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      are you not reading there was physical evidence that clearly shows he was the shooter~~~~~~~>Crime lab tests proved that the shell casings recovered from the shooting of Michael Cooper at a party earlier in the evening were fired from the same weapon as the casings recovered from the scene of Officer Mark MacPhail's murder. Davis was convicted of shooting Cooper.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Matt

    I haven't been following this case, and I didn't even bother reading this article in its entirety. With that said, it seems odd for the author to say there was no physical evidence when a dead body is present.

    September 15, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Goody


      September 15, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. morbus gravis

    Third , they claim that their "newly discovered evidence" (i.e., the recantations) hasn't been adequately considered by the courts. This is not true.

    The affidavits, in various combinations, had already been reviewed by 29 judges in seven different types of review, over the course of 17 years, before Tuesday's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

    The state Parole Board halted the execution in 2007, saying they wouldn't allow a possibly innocent man to be executed. Then, after more than a year of reviewing all of the evidence on both sides, and hearing from every witness Davis' lawyers presented – including Davis – they refused to grant clemency.

    The trial was fair. Davis was represented by superbly skilled criminal defense lawyers. He was convicted by a fair jury (seven black and five white). The post conviction stridency we've seen has been much about the death penalty and little about Troy Davis.

    The jury found that Davis, after shooting another man earlier in the evening, murdered a police officer who came to the rescue of a homeless man Davis had beaten. Mark MacPhail had never even drawn his weapon.

    September 15, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      You seem to have a vested interest in the death/carrying out of the execution of this prisoner. What's your relation to the case and/or the slain officer?

      I lived in the area during the shooting, had a grandfather and uncle on the Chatham County and Thunderbolt police departments, and I am pretty familiar with the case. Personally, I am not anti-death penalty, but I am opposed to it in this case as too many things have changed regarding the original trial. The fact other courts agreed with the original decision doesn't change my personal opinion. But you seem to have an axe to grind, so I am curious where your coming from in all this.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Chris

    Interesting how the judicial system works. "Innocent until proven guilty", with "proven" not meeting any scientific criteria whatsoever, but then once "proven" guilty, the rule for appeal is "Guilty until proven innocent", with "proven" held to the most stringent standards of scientific scrutiny and skepticism (presumption that the original verdict was flawless) and the LOWEST standards of human cultural bias. Oh, well. The point isn't to serve justice or seek truth, the point is to uphold the all-important SYSTEM and maintain the all-important status quo. Good luck, Mr. Davis. You're going to need it.

    September 15, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      his case was reviewed and reviewed and reviewed,,,,,,hes guilty. do you have any evidence that he is not? he was already found guilty. at that point you need some pretty strong evidence that you are not. to go free

      September 15, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. spaz

    Wow another cop killer trying to get free. Just like that trash that killed the cop in Philly years and years ago who should have fried already. Don't matter your color u kill a cop u should die. The cops should have killed him on the spot not wait for trial.

    September 15, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      right on!
      fry them

      September 15, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Goody

      SEVEN OUT OF NINE WITNESSES HAVE RECANTED. This doesn't bother you?

      September 15, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. steve

    yeah, all these cowards plead innocence after they get caught
    fry him

    September 15, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. dorthy

    The whole world needs to grow we r all equal in ths wrld black or whte prple or green ,we r all human , everyone needs to grw some nuts n do whts rgt ..the facts r there read them then decide ! Ths man needs to do life but not be punished by death!!!! Ur not GOD!

    September 15, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. PhilG.

    I'm with morbus gravis on this one.

    The jury saw the evidence and convicted him.

    He should die.

    September 15, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
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