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. The Executioner

    I'm Very sure that if a white man would have shot a BLACK cop all of you would be saying , HE'S GUILTY !

    September 15, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • lyncher

      Typical N.W.A. Fail!

      September 15, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Capercorn

      If there was evidence proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the yes. If a reasonable doubt existed, as one does in the case of Georgia v. Troy Davis, then I would say not guilty.

      You cannot execute a human being when a reasonable doubt exists. Luckily, the US Supreme Court has sense.

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

      White men shot Black Men (including Black COPs) for years AND, nothing was done about it.

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

      A cop is a cop.

      You shoot one-you should die.

      That's the one profession in the U.S. where a black man can get the same respect as a white man.

      Being a policeman.

      September 15, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. SeQlar

    End death row... It's inhumane...

    September 15, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Alice Cooper

    Making Death Row Inmates and prisoners serve life in prison is inhumane. Free them quicker into the heavens with the lethal injection

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

      Nah. Life Imprisonment without the Possibility of Parole is cheaper when all is said and done.

      Besides, humans shouldn't be allowed to deliberately end the lives of other humans.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • yo yo

      Excuse me, but how is life imprisonment without the possibility of parrole cheaper? Elaborate please.

      September 15, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • nothanksimdriving123

      YoYo, I believe I've heard life-no-parole is less expensive because of there being far fewer appeals than in capital punishment cases.

      September 15, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SSampson

    7 of 9 recanted – no physical evidence – the trial must have been farce.....

    Regardless of guilt or innocence, you can't put this guy to death without, at a MINIMUM, a new trial....

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

      Oh – and also -who gives a #$&^@@# what the Vatican thinks.... A society based on imagination that executed people for being witches..... hardly a credible org.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      Second , they claim that seven of nine witnesses have recanted their trial testimony. This is not believable.

      To be sure, they've produced affidavits; a few handwritten and apparently voluntarily and spontaneous, except for concluding with "further the affiant sayeth not." Who wrote that stuff? The lawyers, perhaps?

      The law is understandably skeptical of post-trial "newly-discovered evidence."

      Such evidence as these affidavits might, for example, be paid for, or coerced, or the product of fading memory.

      If every verdict could be set aside by the casual acceptance of a witness's changing his mind or suggesting uncertainty, decades after the event, it is easy to see how many cases would have to be tried at least twice (perhaps ad infinitum).

      Thus the law sets strict standards for such "newly discovered" evidence.

      For example, it cannot be for a lack of diligence that the new evidence was not discovered sooner, and the defendant is expected to present that evidence at the earliest possible time.

      Yet these affidavits were not offered in a motion for new trial until eight days before the first scheduled execution in 2008 seventeen years after Davis' conviction. If this affidavit evidence was so compelling, why didn't they rush to seek a new trial in 2003 when they had most of the affidavits they now rely upon? Or collect those affidavits earlier?

      Each of the now-"recanting" witnesses was closely questioned at trial by lawyers representing Davis, specifically on the question whether they were in any way pressured or coerced by police in giving their statements or testimony. All denied it.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. morbus gravis

    despite the anti DP crowd saying there is no evidence, there is................please any of you who think hes innocent please explain this 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 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • SSampson

      Proof – something that seems to elude the Nancy Grace generation – That is not proof –

      September 15, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      if thats not proof what the hell is it???? no wonder people like casey anthoney cant be convicted in this world, you need a damn video in this day in age

      September 15, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • 7TX

      Morbus as I strolled through the pages of this section, I find that you have more postings on this news story than anyone else. You've posted 30% of the 450 messages here. What is your issue with this story? Act normal like everyone else and post 1 or 2 comments and move on man!

      September 16, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  6. Ethan Fairweather

    I wasn't very aware of the world at that time because of my age, but I think he needs to have his sentence commuted at least, in my opinion at least. In the early half of the 20th century, Albert Pierrepoint was one of the most famous executioners for Great Britain. His views on capital punishment were mixed, but he was quoted in his autobiography as saying: "I have come to the conclusion that executions solve nothing, and are only an antiquated relic of a primitive desire for revenge which takes the easy way and hands over the responsibility for revenge to other people..." It is up to the current generation to say what is viable as a punishment and what is not. My question is this, what will it truly accomplish?

    September 15, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Capercorn

    Anyone looking for ways to trim the fat from the budget and to save the taxpayer's money?

    End the death penalty. In most states, it costs the taxpayers over a million dollars more to execute a condemned prisoner, than it costs to lock the same prisoner up for life in a supermax facility.

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

      it would also be cheaper to not put people in jail, but justice is not about cost$$$$. its about justice.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Capercorn

      I'm pretty sure that life without the possibility of parole is a far harsher punishment than the easy way out.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      if life in prison would be harsher as the liberals always say, why do people fight so hard not to be executed??? you think he would want to be executed instead of life in prison....CAPECORN the evidence finds your argument makes no sense

      September 15, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gabor47

      It is not the execution which takes millions of taxpayer's dollars. It is the endless stream of appeals, lawyer's fees, keeping these people in prison for over two decades before they are executed. The execution itself takes a few dollars worth of chemicals.

      September 15, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • 7TX

      Morbus as I strolled through the pages of this section, I find that you have more postings on this news story than anyone else. You've posted 30% of the 450 messages here. What is your issue with this story? Act normal like everyone else and post 1 or 2 comments and move on man!

      September 16, 2011 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  8. WhackyWaco

    Zap him.

    September 15, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Janet Theus

    I really think they need to let Davis off of death row immediately.... Too many times our black men our convicted of crimes wrongfully and nobody fights for the cause. I don't care what color you are if you are innoncent then you are innocent. according to the law if their is any doubt once so ever you can't convict anyone of a crime then.

    September 15, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dave

    The US is the ONLY democratic nation in the world that conducts state sponsered executions of its citizens. Take a look at the list of countries that still have the death penalty. We are in agreement with other enlightened governements like Iran and China. The Death Penalty is a barbaric relic that civilized people abandoned when the Dark Ages ended. It is one of the reasons that Europeans think of us as ignorant rubes still stuck in an idiotic cowboy mentality. Yup. we elected W McFlightsuit as our leader – twice!

    September 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • morbus gravis

      how do you know the europeans are right?? were the richest nation on the earth so were doing somethign right

      September 15, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Capercorn

      We're the richest by what standard? GDP? Sure.

      But our population is far above and beyond the smallish European countries as well.

      September 15, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sonny

    The witnesses that testified and then recanted should be charged w/ purjury if he is eventually acquitted

    September 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sean

    This man is a murderer and he should be put down like the animal he is.he does not deserve to stay in jail for the rest of his life at the cost of the texas tax dollar.

    September 15, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Capercorn

      He's in Georgia.

      Furthermore, numerous studies have proven that executing a single prisoner costs the states millions above and beyond what it would cost to imprison the same convict for life without the possibility of parole.

      September 15, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    As it seems, if 9 people accuse you of a murder that happened nearby you can be killed. If you cannot produce physical evidence, you are found guilty by opinion alone. If the individual's own claims are dismissed simply by weight of numbers, then the indivdual rights of that person are dismissed as well.

    Further, a higher % of people with more melanin in there bodies are executed, when relative population is taken into account in the US. This is exacerbated if there is a difference in conncentration between victim and accused. And if the courts, who have a vested interest in being and staying correct, are willing to overlook a few details to stay correct, the unlikely becomes more likely. The fact that exection rooms simply exists means they are more likely to be used.

    As analogy, posit a colosseum a of romans accusing a known chrisitian a of various crimes secondary to his worship of an incorrect diety. Perhaps he was simply near a religious function near where the actual criminal did his deed and not even participating in the act when rounded up. Irregardless, he his accused and condemned. His initial accusers begin recanting statements. Should the emperor stop this execution? The lions are already hungry, and the show must go on, after all.

    And biases exist within all of us. When I jog and start to catch up to someone, I stamp my feet to alert them. Startling someone by appearing behind them is quite easy to do and they assume the worst immediately.

    September 15, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Chris

    African-Americans just don't fit in this melting pot of the world do they?

    September 15, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • 7TX

      Chris it's more like Caucasians don't accept a melting pot.

      September 16, 2011 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. katahdin

    If the evidence against this man is so strong, the district attorney shouldn't have any problem trying him again, with the same evidence.
    The truth is that in certain areas of this country, once the police get hold of someone, especially for murder, the truth doesn't really matter. The judicial process becomes like a runaway train. If the evidence doesn't fit, the police and prosecuters will collude to make it fit.
    Look up Randall Dale Adams.

    September 15, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25