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. Marla

    Why do people always have to play the race card? Ah, screw it, Americans are dumber than hell nowadays. If evolution worked the way it should, 90% of all Americans shouldn't be alive from all the stupid things people do.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Warrior

      Marla – you are so ignorant. Granted I hate the race card, no matter the guy's race, he is a POS. IMO POS is his race. Now if you don't like America, go somewhere else.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Does that include you?

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

      You are right.

      Forty-five years ago, democrat congressmen put stupid and lazy people on the endangered species list and the country has gone downhill ever since. RIP America.

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

      Warrior apparently doesn't understand that when you're just starting out in life, you can't just pack up & leave for another country. I like America, I just don't like most of the idiots that live here, IE druggies, rednecks, drunks, backstabbers.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • juice

      Warrior: Why do people always say, if you don't like it here, leave? This country was founded by people WHO DID NOT LEAVE. By people who saw injustice from the Crown and rather than leaving west or north or south, stayed and changed it for the better. For people to suggest that those of us who see rooms for improvement should leave means that those same people see leaving as an acceptable response to hardship and challenge. That means that the people who tell others to leave will leave as soon as things get tough for them. In that, they are not true Americans. They are cowards and malcontents.

      So no, we will not leave. We will stay and we will fight. And in the end, we will change things. After that, we hope that you will stay and work with us. But chances are, you guys would have left already.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Warrior

      Juice – I am a true patriot. I believe in this country and am simply sick of the whiners such as you and Marla. The only things you want to change are opening the boarders and rehabilitating those who are non-rehabilitate-able. I’m all about fighting for change but not at the detriment to my family. You try to rehabilitate a pedophile and that puts our children at risk. You try to rehabilitate a career criminal and murderer and it also puts our citizens at risk. Mitigate the risk and get rid of the scourge.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Davis

      Marla you are naive and unrealistic. There is no utopia in the world that completely erradicates drunks, druggies, or rednecks. They all exist in the world in one way or another. And quit being immature; backstabbers? really? are you like 16 and still in high school?

      September 20, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  2. Let Him Fry

    It's about time that they put this murderer to death. When was the last time you heard someone on death row say "I'm guilty, give me the needle". Get over it people, he's getting what he deserves though many years later than he should have.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • I Support the Death Penalty

      Heck yeah, let us taxpayers just make a lump sum payment to eradicate this clown and stop supporting him.

      Whether he shot THIS cop or not is irrelevant – Look at his past track record. More than enough to warrant death IMO.

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

      He shot a man in the face and pistol whipped another. How hard is it to imagine him turning the gun on someone else? That's beyond reasonable doubt to me as well. It seems like almost everyone claims innocence to get out of the consequences. I don't expect family on either side to be anything but biased but just because a person seems sane and rational now doesn't mean they commit a heinous act in the past. He's being executed for the past, regardless of how nice he might be now.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. Lisa S

    Haven't followed the case but it would seem to me if there were ANY doubt, that there alone would be enough to remove the death penalty status. Then again, notice the last of the article–The parole board in 33 years has never changed its mind–
    My, to be so perfect of a system -evidently they don't make mistakes.--wait a minute--didn't the North win the war?

    September 20, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Funny how all this evidence comes out a week before his execution date. Where was this evidence at his last hearing?

      September 20, 2011 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • @tux

      What does the Civil War have to do with this? Maybe if the north used the death pently more you would have less crime. He killed a cop, and in the south we take that seriously.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • newshawk

      Lisa, this article is pitiful in that it doesn't represent the whole story. Judges reviewed the evidence and said that his claims of innocence based on new evidence is vastly overstated. People need to do more than read this article to make an intelligent decision. And yes, enough of the race card. White people die all the time in the death chamber. Articles like this make me ashamed to be a journalist of any kind. It's lacking the counterpoint and evidence. Shame on CNN.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • I Support the Death Penalty

      Look at the death row statistics – More WHITE folk have been executed than all others.

      Dont give me this race card innuendo.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • juice

      Jeff: things happen in this world even without you being aware of it. The witness recantation started during the trial itself an continued after that. Within a few years, most of the 7 witness who would eventually recant did.

      So no, all these evidence didn't just come out a week before his execution.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jackpot

    Sorry, but we're in the 21st Century now. And some people, including the majority of the jury, have decided otherwise. Get educated.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  5. Andrew

    Why is it that, whenever a black person is killed by a white person, or a black person is convicted of murder and executed, it's racism, but if a black person kills a white person, they are enver charged with a hate crime or accused of being racist? No, the true racists are the people that see race as the root cause of everything. White people don't refer to tehmselves at White-Americans, we just refer to ourselves as Americans. However, every other minority feels that they must distinguish themselves based on race. You can have all-black schools, but don't you ever dare try to make an all-white school, that'd just be racist. People like you, and Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson, etc claim to want equality, but you really don't. You want to be treated differently, because of your skin color.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mike R

    At one time I was an ardent supporter of the death penalty and now I have to admit that I am not so much. Especially when 22 years has passed since the incident. Why has this taken so long? Is it Davis or and extremely flawed system? If he did it, and from the sounds of it he likely did, why has it taken so long to reach this final outcome? Where is the swift justice? Can you imagine living on death row for 22 years? While defending himself, what has he been like the last 22 years? Has he been a trouble maker or has he done his best to improve his life and made a difference to those around him? How about the family of the deceased who clearly have not found closure? IMHO....This whole situation has not been productive for society nor has it been fair to any of those involved.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      I don't know the details of this case but the appeals process is usually the reason there is a long lag between a death sentence and execution.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
    • robbiemai

      Flawed system. It takes 25 years on average to execute somebody. How can that possibly deter murderers? I try to think about what will happen to me in 25 years, and while I can imagine it, it isn't very real, if you know what I mean. The long delay creates a disconnect between the crime and the punishment. If part of the justification for the death penalty is that it will deter murderers, we need to fix the system. If you're going to do it, do it! Otherwise just give them all life.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Or better yet how about all the taxpayer dollars wasted on 22 years of this nonsense. If they were going to execute him they should have done it in the room next to the courtroom 21 years and 363 days ago saving this man this man 22 years of misery and taxpayers hundreds of thousand of dollars

      September 20, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • I Support the Death Penalty

      To answer your question of why its taken so long, I can sum it up in 3 words.

      Follow The Money

      September 20, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  7. Warrior

    “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.” That’s what I call evidence. He is guilty. He is a POS. I see no problem getting rid of the scourge. BuBye!

    September 20, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Anchorite

      Other experts said the bullets themselves did not come from the same gun. He was not convicted on the physical evidence which was pretty scarce. If that's all it takes to get the death penalty, anyone could frame you.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • juice

      The murder weapon was a .38 revolver. There is no way to match casings from a revolver because there's no distinguishing mark left on the casing itself from the gun. Unlike a pistol where the barrel doesn't move and the firing pin generally strikes the same area each time, a revolver's barrel rotates and the strike location can subtly change based on variance in manufacturing tolerance. What the statement meant was that the similar .38 casings were found at each location and not that the casings could be traced to an identical gun. I don't believe the gun itself was ever found.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Warrior

      He just happened to have a .38 and had shot a guy in the face, used the gun to pistol whip another guy, and then in the same vicinity, an officer is shot with the same type of weapon. People actually question his guilt? It’s not just the extreme similarity of the weapon but his actions that led up to the shooting of the police officer. The guy looks clean cut, but then a pair of glasses, clean shaven face, and good haircut can do that. He is guilty. He is a criminal. He is a blight on our society.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  8. ThinkAgain

    "seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted or contradicted their testimony."

    Davis was convicted predominantly based on eyewitness accounts; 7 of the 9 witnesses have changed their testimony.

    WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH GEORGIA?!?

    September 20, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • @tux

      Well if they 'lied' under oath then we should charge them with a crime. I bet if they were faced with that then they would stick with the story they gave. When P.O.S kill cops in Georgia, they get death.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Mauro

      What's wrong with Georgia? It's simple – ignorance and racism. I think it has something to do with the heat. I think it fries their ability to use intelligence.

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

      After 22 years...how do we know that the witnesses weren't "tampered" with?? And why should we believe it now 22 years later?? Maybe they are having second thoughts about the impact of their testimony on the death sentence....If the system worked efficiently, this would have all been over with many years before people decided to change their minds...

      September 20, 2011 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  9. pat

    I was a strong believer in our "justice" system and death penalty until I was involved in a civil case of my own against my city for problems they caused to my property. Because several influential businesses owned by very wealthy people in my city were involved in a development that caused the problems, I was given an up close look (all the way to the top of our judicial system) at the complete lack of ethics of our judicial system, politics, bias, and even omitting facts from the record in written decisions and opinions to avoid stepping on the toes of our "community pillars." When this reality hit me right I knew my belief was wrong, and my heart sinks for those who are innocent and facing monumental decisions involving life or death by these so-called honorable people.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  10. GT66

    You mean the way white cops murder blacks with impunity? No cutting in on a white tradition, eh?

    September 20, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  11. D

    You seem like a really nice person.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  12. Christian S

    What's with everyone wanting his blood? A death already occurred. What exactly will another one accomplish?

    I thought the US, like other enlightened nations, had abolished state-snanctioned murder (like most of the civilized world has years, sometimes decades ago.)

    Instead, the US shares their position on this with:

    Iran
    Iraq
    Jordan
    North Korea
    Palestinian National Authority
    Syria
    Yemen
    Pakistan
    Lebanon
    Afghanistan
    Cuba
    Somalia
    Nigeria
    Libya
    Egypt
    Ethiopia
    Botswana

    Congratulations. That's quite a club.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      You left out China.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Peter T

      Yes... that is some club to belong to. And the more religious your are in the US, the more vocal you are FOR the death penalty. All those churches are just front ends for human greed, not human compassion.

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

      Ok then you can pay for his housing, food, and other expendatures that he needs to live the rest of his life in prison. The average cost of an in mate is about $49 a day. Can you say higher taxes for the rest of us?

      September 20, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  13. B+

    If Obama is somehow re-elected in 2012, whites should grab their ankles and kiss their butts good buy because their will be no re-election reason for Obama to hold back.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  14. us1776

    Georgia has it's black scapegoat, can hide its shoddy detective work, and protect its faulty justice system.

    All it costs is one innocent black man. But hey, in this country, railroading innocent black men is a national pastime.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      To get it right, they should have at least found the right black guy.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
    • @tux

      Whats funny about you is that you pick 1776 as part of you name...in 1776 blacks did not even have a voice. He was convicted by a jury of his peers, maybe his lawer should have done a better job.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  15. El Guapo

    Fire up the Soylent Green Machine and let's feed the poor with our prisoners.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
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