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. Dave

    I'm sure that this man was a Boy Scout, sang in the Church choir, was a straight A student, and received an honorable discharge from the military. But the people in Georgia just was to fry an innocent man because of the color of his skin. Give me a break, this man was found guilty and needs to pay for his crimes.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      What law enforcement did between the murder and the conviction needs to be scrutinized and criticized, whether or not Davis was the one who shot the cop. Kill Davis now and they shut this case and forget about it.

      Sloppy, emotion-driven, unprofessional behavior really needs to be held to account, ESPECIALLY when such behavior leads to a death penalty conviction.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Ralf The Dog

      When DNA first started being used as evidence, a large percentage of people convicted were proven to be Innocent by the new technology (Many already dead). Do you think people who are Innocent are not being executed today? Best estimates are that one in four people executed did not commit the crime. They may not be Sunday school teachers, that does not make them guilty of murder.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Leo

      Why're you making this about race? It is fascinating that you wan't to discount his race being an issue, yet you're the one making it an issue. This is about evidence not being clear and 7 out of 9 witnesses recounting their testimony. Not about race.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. Criminy

    If there is any possibility this guy might not have committed this murder, then he should not be put to death. I have read about and seen enough to know that many times charges are placed on someone just so there can be a person found to punish for the crime. So, I do not trust the police and district attorneys just because they are "supposed to be the good guys." At the same time, this guy has had 22 years to prove his innocence.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Ralf The Dog

      Some would argue that he has proved is innocence several times over. The authorities just don't care.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  3. Mbisi.

    Killing is killing & killing a killer does not give back the life of the killed.
    Just as Libyans and Syrian are killing each other American are doing the same to its people besides being the most civilized nation in the world & also world's democracy model.Americans should to mum over matters of other nations becoz they share the same DEVIL.
    When time come RIP DAVIS.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  4. Simi

    Such a shame

    September 20, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  5. Fry Him Like a Frito

    The old method was better. At that time when the lights went dim, you knew another killer bit the dust.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • pwayne

      And you will receive the same lack of Mercy when you breathe your last breath....God knows your inner life, which I can begin to understand because of your loose longue.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  6. LetsGetReal

    Eye witness account are often so flawed that they are nearly meaningless for finding of facts. The reason they juries tend to give them more than there due weight. In this case, there seems to be actual evidence pointing him to the crime and little evidence pointing another way. It is difficult to tell given all that we know is what we learn from the media.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  7. Chris

    Wow we really like to kill people. That there seems to be so much doubt and they vote to go ahead, it's pretty shocking. No credible physical evidence? 7 out of 9 witnesses recant? Doesn't sound guilty to me. This guy is getting the shaft just so they can have "justice." Probably not the first time it's happened to a black man. God bless America.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  8. Pumbaa

    If the government can wait 22 years before murdering a man then it can just keep him in jail the rest of his life. Only fools willingly allow their government to have the right of life or death over them. Evidence can be falsified, witnesses can lie or be mistaken, and one might just have a bad attorney.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  9. pwayne

    I am totally against capital punishment...it is a barbaric action. Let a Holy God do the judging....he will judge those who put someone to death in error.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Mee too

      hey dum dum:
      where is your holy god when the police office got shot. are you saying he shot and killed himself?

      September 20, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  10. Mary

    His mother knows the truth. Sounds like she washed the clothes he was wearing since the cops found them in the dryer and retrieved forensic evidence from them. She backed up his alibi and then tried to say the cops searched her house improperly.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  11. jim

    you going to hell, ms. mcphail. youre more guilty than davis...

    September 20, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Mee too

      How So Jim, the jack-e-lope?

      September 20, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • SoM

      Jim, do not judge and condem those who judge and condem. You become just like them.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  12. Clt

    The victim's family should want to see the right man executed. If the board has never changed it's mind in 33 years, that means they will never do so. I think this case is the beginning of the end for the death penalty in the United States. This case has so many doubts, if I were the family, I would demand the 7 witnesses who changed their story be prosecuted. Either they lied then, or they are lying now and it's caused much more pain to the family. The U.S. has murdered innocent people on death row in addition to the guilty. Eye witness testimony has never been reliable.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  13. Democrats R Commies

    Did anyone posting for clemency offer to put him up in their own homes?

    September 20, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  14. DetroitFrank

    Hey Davis, at 7:10pm on Wednesday, I will eating dinner, you will be assuming room temperature.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  15. john/kc

    The sad thing about this story is that it has taken over 20 years to execute this cop killer. People should be given one appeal, and then carry out the punishment.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Leo

      Yet, how do you even know he is a cop killer?

      September 20, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
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