Death-row inmate Troy Davis denied clemency
September 20th, 2011
09:57 AM ET

Death-row inmate Troy Davis denied clemency

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole has denied clemency for death-row inmate Troy Davis.

Davis was convicted of the 1989 killing of Savannah, Georgia, police officer Mark MacPhail.

Davis is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Wednesday at a state prison in Jackson, Georgia.

"Monday September 19, 2011, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles met to consider a clemency request from attorneys representing condemned inmate Troy Anthony Davis. After considering the request, the Board has voted to deny clemency," the board said in a statement Tuesday morning.

The five-member parole board votes in a secret ballot.

Davis has gained international support for his long-standing claim that he did not kill MacPhail. International figures including Pope Benedict XVI, Desmond Tutu, and former President Jimmy Carter, entertainers such as Susan Sarandon, Harry Belafonte, and the Indigo Girls, and others have joined with Amnesty International, the NAACP and other groups in supporting Davis' efforts to be exonerated.

He has been scheduled to die three times before, most recently in October 2008, when the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay two hours before he was to be executed.

Since Davis' conviction in 1991, seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted or contradicted their testimony. There also have been questions about the physical evidence - and, according to some, the lack thereof - linking Davis to the killing.

Amnesty International reacted angrily to the clemency denial on Tuesday.

"It is unconscionable that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied relief to Troy Davis. Allowing a man to be sent to death under an enormous cloud of doubt about his guilt is an outrageous affront to justice," Amnesty International said in a statement Tuesday.

"Should Troy Davis be executed, Georgia may well have executed an innocent man and in so doing discredited the justice system," the statement said.

But the victim's mother, Anne MacPhail, said she's satisfied that Davis will be executed.

"Well, justice is done, that's the way we look at it. That's what we wanted," the mother told CNN. "I am very convinced that he is guilty."

She said she would not attend Davis' execution but family members would be there.

Anne MacPhail said she has not forgiven the convicted of killing her son.

"Not yet, maybe sometime," she said.

The NAACP and Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty had joined Amnesty International in organizing support for Davis, setting up about 300 rallies, vigils and events worldwide in the past week or so. In addition, they said that more than 1 million people have signed a petition in support of Davis' bid to be exonerated.

In a 2008 statement, then-Chatham County District Attorney Spencer Lawton described how Davis was at a pool party in Savannah when he shot another man, Michael Cooper, wounding him in the face. Davis was then driven to a nearby convenience store, where he pistol-whipped a homeless man, Larry Young, who'd just bought a beer.

Soon thereafter, prosecutors said, MacPhail - who was working in uniform, off-duty, at a nearby bus station and restaurant - arrived. It was then, the jury determined, that Davis shot the officer three times, including once in the face as he stood over him.

Davis' lawyers, in a federal court filing, insisted that there is "no physical evidence linking" Davis to MacPhail's murder. They point, too, to "the unremarkable conclusion" of a ballistics expert who testified that he could not find definitively that the bullets that wounded Cooper and killed MacPhail were the same.

Georgia's attorney general, in an online statement, claimed that the expert said the bullets came from the same gun type and noted that casings at the pool party shooting matched - thus came from the same firearm as - those found at MacPhail's murder scene.

Two decades ago, a jury convicted Davis on two counts of aggravated assault and one each of possessing a firearm during a crime, obstructing a law enforcement officer and murder. The latter charge led, soon thereafter, to his death sentence.

While 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 parole board denied had denied Davis clemency once before. The board has never changed its mind on any case in the past 33 years.

Read more CNN coverage on the Troy Davis case
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Filed under: Crime • Death Penalty • Georgia • Justice
soundoff (2,336 Responses)
  1. IJ

    Can we just let the south secede and allow their racist, overweight, illiterate society to fend for themselves? As a northeast liberal, I'm tired of paying for their stop signs, or in this case, a bankrupt legal system.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
    • zdmo2

      What a shame that you don't practice what you preach. I'm from the south and I disagree with this horrible injustice. Perhaps you should not paint all of us with the same brush. It just so happens that some of us have graduate degrees, enjoy healthy food, and (a real shocker for you I'm sure), go to the gym and maintain a healthy weight. We also travel , read books and actively participate in the political process. Strangely, I've visited many cities in the US and traveled abroad where ignorance, racism, poverty and injustice also exist. I wonder who you choose to blame for those facts.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  2. Ross

    Troy Davs is more than guilty! It is a shame that it has taken this long for a GUILTY convict to be put to death! I live in Savannah and this man has made a complete mockery of our judicial system! EVERY court from the highest to lowest has up held this verdict! Troy Davis stood over a police officer and shot him in his head! This is an animal, not a human with compassion!

    September 20, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Pepou27

      No Mr. is not an animal. He is an innocent man who is going to be murdered.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
    • boocat9

      Another idiot with bloodlust in his you call yourself "christian" too, don't you?

      September 20, 2011 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Ross

      Have you read the ORIGINAL court files? I doubt it! Troy Davis is GUILTY!

      September 20, 2011 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Ross

      Christian has nothing to do with this. I bet most of you that want Troy Davis to walk believe and support abortion? So it's okay to kill a baby because the mother made a mistake, but Troy Davis can kill a police officer and he needs to walk?

      September 20, 2011 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
    • TANK407

      1. The gunpowder residue tests were NEGATIVE.

      2. There was no weapon found.

      3. Redd Coles was the one who fought with the homeless man and has confessed to several people that he killed Officer McPhail. He is also one of 2 (out of 9) who did not recant. He had a .38, same type of gun involved, that disappeared.

      September 20, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. earlbeck

    CNN and other news agencies are doing only a superficial job in reporting. 7/9 witnesses recant. What about the other evidence presented at the trial such as was there gun powder residue on Troy? Was the gun found in his pocession? Was it registered to him? Who else was involved with the beating of the homeless man? etc. I'm sure the Courts are reviewing all of this info. rather than just paying attention to witnesses some of whom maybe recanting their testimony because of pressure brought against them by Troy supporters. I would like to hear what other evidence is available before saying there is reasonable doubt.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert (Atlanta)

      And this is precisely the point – take another good look at all of the evidence to make sure. Staying his execution would not prevent it – just provide a final review. Those who believe that the conclusions reached by jurors who have no professional training or expertise in evaluating evidence are always right need to spend some time reviewing cases where evidence was a) planted, b) lacking, or c) misrepresented for political or other reasons.

      I don't know one way or the other about Troy Davis. But having a credible judicial system requires that we get it right before we take someone's life. Otherwise, we are no better than China.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Jenniffer

      1. The gunpowder residue tests were NEGATIVE.

      2. There was no weapon found.

      3. Redd Coles was the one who fought with the homeless man and has confessed to several people that he killed Officer McPhail. He is also one of 2 (out of 9) who did not recant. He had a .38, same type of gun involved, that disappeared.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Red Pison

    America has more people in prison than any other country in the world. That includes Mexico, Iraq, North Korea, or any of these other supposed "hell holes of the world". Your freedom is a lie.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert (Atlanta)

      We have people in prison because they have (in most cases) violated the rules of our society. We also have a bigger population than the countries you listed and do not live under their tyrannical regimes. If want to question our freedoms, get your facts straight and take the time to educate yourself first.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  5. pam black

    people need to turn to god we all are living in serious time some of you bloggers are heartless and selfish

    September 20, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  6. Tonza

    My heart goes out to both families but GA, GOD is watching & there is life after death!!! NAACP, YOU & ME, I AM TROY DAVIS!!!

    September 20, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  7. Andrew

    Not enough evidence to set him free, but there is too much doubt to proceed with the execution. Georgia got this one wrong. When you execute a person, there must be NO REASONABLE DOUBT, which there was and it was overlooked. This is exactly what is wrong with the justice system. I am not sure whether or not he is guilty or not, but I do see a reasonable doubt, and killing an innocent man is about as big of a travesty as that cop getting killed.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  8. paula sims

    life is a mystery

    September 20, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  9. JP

    Guess the witnesses who lied are going to live with the guilt for a long time, maybe they should have thought about that before they lied on the stand. Why aren't they being investigated for taking this guy's life if he is indeed innocent? That's the real question.
    Also enough liberal/repub nonsense. I know quite a few moderate liberals who are 100% for the death penalty, and I'm one of them.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  10. jennyy

    fry his a$$

    September 20, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • XoXo

      And what if he's innocent–that they have the wrong man?

      September 20, 2011 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • jennyy

      xoxo, he is black, how can they have the wrong man?

      September 20, 2011 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
    • nonya

      Wow, is that the only reason you think he's guilty because he's black?

      September 20, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  11. mandy lohof

    Three wittnesses is a lot still when most crimes have none. The three say he is guilty.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • XoXo

      But seven say he's not guilty. The overwhelming majority.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Jenniffer

      Two witnesses of nine have not recanted. One is the guy who has confessed to several people that he killed the officer. The other could only identify Troy Davis at trial, two years after he told police that he “wouldn’t know the shooter again if I saw him.”

      September 20, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Selma

    This story will be forgotten within a few days. The truth is that most people don't know the whole story, they just want to jump on a story that involves this type of controversy. Black man, wrongly condemned by whites. If it was one of your relatives, you'd be whistling a different tune. Get the facts before jumping to conclusions. And yes, I did the research. Guess what? I think he IS guilty, and believe it or not... I AM black!

    September 20, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Madny

      well darling, let's hope you never find yourself, or a male relative or yours in this position, because as a black person, there are no guarantees in this country.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Ladeebugg

      @Selma..I don't feel this case has anything to do with one being black or white and/or the use of the race card. The fact you interjected ethnicity overshadows the main issue. Rather or not this man is in fact guilty of taking the life of a police officer. If he is NOT then the State of Georgia would also be guilty of taking the life of an innocent man. I'm also a Black American Woman (as well as a Bleeding Heart Liberal) that fully support the use of the death penalty. However, this could possibly be a huge miscarriage of justice.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Cevennes

      Selma, what you "think" and your race are irrelevant. What anyone "thinks" is irrelevant. The issue is of legality and justice. If there was no preponderance of evidence to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that he is guilty, he cannot be convicted and executed. The case was slim at trial, and the process has since been shown to have been sullied by the usual Southern approach to justice. I, for one, "think" he probably did it, too. That isn't good enough. There is no incontrovertible proof that he did it. The margin for error in this case is too great. And the U.S. government should not be in the business of killing innocent people.

      September 20, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. kedmond

    The President really needs to intervene on behalf of this man.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Chi Chi

      I definitely agree with you.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  14. Runner87

    First Texas executes an innocent man in Todd WIllingham and now this.

    Something is wrong with the South, just wrong

    September 20, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  15. john

    Troy Davis chose to live in an area of the country (the south) inhabited largely by ignorant people. A bus ticket to a more sophisticated part of the country is fairly inexpensive. He shouldn't now be asking to be treated intelligently. Moral of the story, if you live in an ignorant place, don't be surprised when you are treated ignorantly.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Mandy

      the moral of the story is people shouldn't have to leave where they want to live to avoid being persecuted in a country which claims equal justice for all citizens.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
    • DT1979

      John...Yours is the most idiotic statement thus far. I'm sure you are just a troll, but come on. This case has been reviewed by the Supreme Court of the US, who just recently DENIED Davis' appeal. Are you including Washington DC as a "less sophisticated" part of the country? Please stay where you are because we certainly don't need your kind of "sophistication" here in the South. Troll.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
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