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. truth hurts

    why do i feel like i read this before? oh yeah. I read it in the bible. a man named jesus was crucified by vengeful incompassionate coldblooded tools of evil.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • yneemee

      Oh please – do NOT compare this man to Jesus – that is plain STUPID.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  2. mike-honcho

    if you go back you will find that there were more blacks than whites on the jury that convicted this man in 1991. I'd say that would qualify this ruling as NOT RACIST. it's sad how the race card if pulled every time a particular race wants something their way. and to me, it seems as though it's always the whites that are the ones it is being used against. Turn the tables people, if this were a white man, and white people were protesting and picketing, we would still be called racist because we were going against a ruling that a jury that had more blacks than whites made. that's just the direction this country is heading.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  3. Justin


    September 20, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jamie

    If they kill an innocent man the Lord knows that and they will get the punishment that they deserve! For the family to be ok with them killing this man when it's not clear it was him is just selfish and inhumane!!! Yea we know their son was killed, but why would they want to see someone else's life taken if it is not 100% clear that it was him!! Maybe they will come to their sense just like all of you who are saying go ahead and kill him! If it was you in that situation and you knew you were innocent or were not given a fair trial how would you feel about someone saying who cares go ahead and kill him\her! Hope you all come to the realization that it's someone life here an they deserve a fair trial!! And talk about tax dollars being spent... Why don't ya talk to Obama about that and all the money he is wanting to spend! Praying all of y'all gain some common sense and a heart because if it was you there I don't think you'd want people saying the same thing!

    September 20, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  5. Erik

    To anyone supporting the death penalty: you should volunteer yourself for execution immediately. Let's examine the logic of that statement: I presume you believe that we should execute anyone that is responsible for murdering an innocent. Since we inevitably execute innocent people due to the inability to know 100% for sure that everyone convicted of such a crime is guilty (such as in this case...), *someone* is responsible for the murder of these innocents that are executed. I believe that the "someone" is you, the supporter of executions. So following your own beliefs you should be executed. Please report to the nearest Death Row and ask for your punishment to be administered post-haste.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mike

    @ Florence when you look at his eyes they say innocent. Are kidding me? God I wish you were a judge then everything would be easy wouldn't it, just look at the eyes and say he's guilty and he's innocent. This man tried to kill another person but failed and pistol whipped another he should have life in jail just for that. You just made the stupidest comment ever congrats.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. Bob

    I find it deplorable to live in a society where if there is "Reasonable Doubt" as there is in this case, that the Execution would be allowed to continue. When the facts and evidence are clear beyond any reasonable doubt, the situation is much different. I think that there should have been a reopening of the case and the facts to be heard again. If on the wnd case, the results are the same so be it. We as People in this country would expect the same privalege and rights if in the same situation. I am deeply saddened by the boards decision. I know if it were my family member who was on the "Death Row" or if it was your very own loved one, and there was any reasonable doubt as to his guilt, you would and could not see someone executed until comfortable with the decision.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      While I agree with your reasonable doubt statement, you are in no position to determine reasonable doubt in this case. Only the jurors involved in the case and they came to the conclusion "beyond a reasonable doubt".

      September 20, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Matt, the jurors came to that conclusion BEFORE 7 of the 9 eyewitnesses recanted their testimony.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Gary

      There is not reasonable doubt... if there was, a jury would have found him not guilty. We do not retry people that should be executed just because we don't like what the jury concluded (Cassey Anthony / OJ)... our system works because it is void of emotion and based on fact only. May this man rest in peace and the lord have mercy on his soul.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  8. Justin

    one more down in geogia

    September 20, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  9. Martin

    Cases like this one just go to prove that the death penalty is too perfect for an imperfect world. I also didn't miss the fact that Davis now has to prove his innocence, whereas when he was tried the burden of proof was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. I think there is reasonable doubt there now.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  10. Bills Cat

    At the local level it might be right to ask a lot of questions, it's Georgia after all, but when US District Court rules most of the appeal is wishful thinking and the rest is nothing a sane juror would believe - time to go. Make your peace with Gawd, son, you're on the way.

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

    i can't believe they are going to put a man to death for killing a police officer but we can't convict a woman for killing her daughter. what is wrong with this country. what is the difference between the two? i don't agree with any of this at all. we let the woman go when all evidence pointed to her and her family and put him to death when there isn't anything really solid.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  12. Justin

    bye bye cop killer finally you will die yourself

    September 20, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • kb – food for thought for someone who is so sure of your standing on this case without even being involved.

      September 20, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Nooses not needles

    amnesty: a deliberate overlooking, as of an offense. Does amnesty international make any effort to pursue the interests of the innocent? This Troy Davis episode has set a wonderful example for our youth, kill a cop and become a cause celebre'. If you are trying to convey the message that violence is OK if it is committed by certain people upon certain people, then you are part of the problem. If you kill someone, especially a police officer, you should face the harshest of sentences.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      It's not about Davis. Even if he did shoot the cop (he probably did), what the police and prosecutors did between the murder and the conviction deserves to be scrutinized and criticized and sloppy and unprofessional actions should be held to account.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  14. Mo Hamhead

    CNN bungles another headline. It should read: "Murderer Troy Davis Denied Clemency"... not, "Death-row Inmate Troy Davis Denied Clemency".

    September 20, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  15. Hope Gold

    It makes me wonder if it was a white man seeking clemency in Georgia, would it have been granted?
    Maybe the ACLU should take a look into this, QUICKLY!

    September 20, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Lee

      Thank you Hope for restoring my faith in someone eventually throwing the race card.....moron

      September 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
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