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. jennyy

    yes we will

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

      jennyy – u r a sick sob.

      September 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. XoXo

    Since there seems to be new evidence to prove his innocence what harm does it cause to delay the execution until they can decide conclusively whether he's truly guilty or not.

    Isn't it better to let a guilty man go free than put to death an innocent man?

    September 20, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  3. Justice

    This guy had no regard to human life.He def shot a guy in the face at a pool party , pistol whipped a bum and whatever else the looser didn't get caught doing before that.He's a hood rat and he deserves what he gets.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  4. Michael

    At the end of the day, the death penalty is a deterrent! In a lot of cases there will be a margin of error. Unfortunately some people may have been executed in error, but I'm also sure that a much greater percentage of people have been saved as a result as a potential murderer will think twice if he could face the death penalty.

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

      Actually, the question of whether or not capital punishment has a deterrent effect on the homicide rate is a controversial topic within criminological research. A lot of empirical research has failed to establish a causal link between the two, but there has also been more contemporary studies showing that more executions lead to a corresponding decrease in the homicide rate. Some researchers believe that there has to be a critical number, what they refer to as the "tipping point" for executions in order to have an appreciable effect on homicides. For me, on humanitarian grounds, I oppose the death penalty. For the family of the victim, I'm sorry for their loss, but it sounds like they are less concerned about fairness, and more concerned that someone has been blamed, and their death will provide closure, irrespective of the truth.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. Harool Roberts

    Bill Wilcox, It troubles me that you would be so enthusiastic about justice, over considering that 7 of the 9 White jurors on his case, admited and recanted in srown statements that they Lied on purpose at Troys case – and there saw no gun powder residue on his hands or forearm, no Gun produced, no DNA evidence, no forensics, no phycical evidence submited in court. Is that justice Mr. WIlcox? What country do you live in Sir? Where do you come from? Because in the United States of America, reasonable doubt, of any type, is enough to spare the innocent from being falsley convicted and murdered by the justice system, and you, its supporters. I pray that your son or family member is never convicted on lies, false accusations and loose evidence. Troy lost his chance at life-based on sworn admited lies. Shame on you Mr. Wilcox. I pray you never experience what Troys family has been suffering through for more than two decades. Its' not only Troy that is serving this sentence, Its his family and everyone close to him as well. Again I ask sir, is that what you call Justice? Is justice, anguish? Is Justice sadness? Is justice accepting lies as the truth? Is justice ignoring the truth at the reputation and faith in an obviously failed justice system?

    The next time you get a traffic ticket and have to appear in court, I pray someone lies on you and submits false statements of your driving behavior. I'd like you to feel an ounce of what Troy davis has wrongly suffered for part of a lifetime. Then tell me, if you still believe justice was served.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • what?!

      So, Harool, you would pray for a bad thing to be done to someone? This is not what prayer is for. Can you think about this some more?

      September 20, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  6. russ

    USA! USA! USA! I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free.....

    September 20, 2011 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. Andrea

    This is exactly why (1) I would never live down south and (2) the death penalty should be abolished. Racism is alive and well in America

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

      is'nt america great!

      September 20, 2011 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • what?!

      People have an idea of the South that is just not true, I knew MANY more racist, rednecked people when I lived in the Midwest than now that I live in the South. This stereotyping is just ignorance. BTW, I live in TX and do not believe in the death penalty. *shocker*!

      September 20, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  8. mphtmnslt

    The MacPhail family is living on an outright lie. I feel sorry for their thirst for blood. See you in hell, Ms. MacPhail.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. SaneinMASS

    He's been lawfully convicted. Who do you think did it , the butler? Same gun, same casing, same man out of control that night and there are still crazies out there that want to save this sob. I'm going to get some popcorn!!

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

      Don't forget the shorts that his atty would not allow to be brought into evidence as it had blood spatter from the fallen officer! He should be shown the mercy he allowed his two victims!

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

      witnesses have doubt and contradicting their stories, but Casey Anthony is acquitted. Oh that was a white on white crime, black man in the south, if 1 billion signed, wouldnt be enough

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

      Neither of you know a thing about the facts of this case, do you? Nothing. At all.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rza

    This has nothing to do with race! That's sorry that all people focus on & bring up is that! The point of this is, a MAN killed a police officer & was convicted of it. Clearly the jury found enough evidence when they convicted him. He should have thought about this while he was running around like an animal hurting people for no reason. Also the jury might not have had feeling of guilt towards him had he been a respectable person & not a hoodlum! You make choices like that, you pay!! I'm glad that's one less evil person on this Earth. I'm cheer when that SOB is put to death! He gets to face GOD for all of the wrongdoings he has done, & that my friends will be the ultimate punishment!

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

      The poignant question is whether the jury would have convicted of a capitol offense had there been seven fewer witnesses.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  11. Fakechristians

    If you look in the mirror and you see a Christian staring back at you then you can't possibly support the death penalty, regardless of the crime.

    If you look in the mirror and you see a Christian staring back at you and you support the death penalty, then you're lying to yourself about your faith.

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

      Curious that the majority of the characters in the bible that were undoubtedly "Christian" supported the death penalty in the scripture itself. What do you think they saw when they looked in the mirror??? Technically the death penalty caused the christian religion to exist, without it, Christianity wouldn't exist...........

      September 20, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Shannon

      Jesus was sentenced to death.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • ClayManBob

      Read_Think_Understand: Please provide the passages you're referring to. Remember the Old Testament doesn't count.

      Shannon: Not by Christians.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • ClayManBob

      The literal translation is Thou shalt not murder.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • nonya

      You are absolutely right fakechristians. And christians didn't exist in the old testament. Jewish people were doing the killing not christians.If you read the bible correctly, you would know when christianity was started.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • GAinMN

      @Read_Think_Understand. How about you take a bit of your own advice and practice what your handle preaches. History recalls that Christians and Jews were offered the opportunity to set Jesus free, but instead chose to free a "suspected" murderer by the name of Barabbas without the benefit of reviewing EITHER case. Further, it was Caiaphas (a Jew) who brought Jesus before Pilate so the death penalty could be imposed upon him (Jewish law forbade the death penalty).
      To all the rest. I have not heard ONE instance where ANYONE has suggested that this man be set free. On the contrary, most have only supported a stay of execution in order to review the charges, evidence (or lack thereof) and testimony (albeit contrary to the original in some instances) against him. I would also challenge EVERYONE to recall in explicit detail EXACTLY what you were doing on September 20, 1991 and then repeat that accounting without flaw tomorrow. A dare say many (if any) could do so.
      Finally I would ask that all who would comment here, please for the sake of our Great Nation read the words of the late great AMERICAN, Dr. Martin Luther King in the 'I have a dream' speech. Then ask yourselves if any of us are truly living by his words pleading for racial harmony and respect for one another. Mr. Davis was convicted by a jury of his piers for being a "BAD" man, not a "BLACK" man.
      BTW, I am a white man and an atheist, so don't anyone try to throw a BS bleeding heart liberal label on me. Oh yeah, I'm also from Georgia.

      September 20, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Steve

    Bottom line, if there is doubt, you at least must be re-tried. Yes, if a witness recants, they should be charged with perjury, but the statute of limitations has passed.

    Let's not forget, forensics is far more advanced today than it was 20 years ago. Technology has given the justice system a more accurate tool to rightfully convict.

    If you doubt me, look at the computer you are using now compared to 20 years ago.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  13. Miss Clark

    Casey Anthony got away w/murdering her own child. But this mans life is being taken when the facts aren't 100%. Our judicial system is horrible. I bet the whole board are old and white. Ppl will continue to lose trust in our court system. Theres no justice here.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  14. Bill

    Meanwhile, Casey Anthony is sun tanning in Florida. What a freakin disgrace of a country.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  15. XoXo


    September 20, 2011 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
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