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. Joe T

    Look at the front page. 2 killers...one is alive and one is not based upon assigned degrees of murder. CNN.com...well played. Unfortunately America is stupid and will not look at both and figure it out.

    Can't wait for all of the revenge-seeking war-mongers in church this Sunday enjoying a sermon about Jesus and forgiveness!

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

      The blacks on the jury had the majority 7 to 5 and they still convicted him and sentenced him to death. This mass-hysteria won't save him either.

      September 20, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. lpseypm

    It doesn't matter if he's guilty or innocent, the issue is that there is not enough evidence to take such non-reversible action. You can't make someone undead; to give someone the death penalty, they must be guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Isn't that how Casey Anthony got off? This country has been so backwards lately it makes me embarrassed to call myself an American.

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

      The first "lady" said the same thing. Why don't you move to Uganda?

      September 20, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ben A

    "...Davis 'vastly overstates the value of his evidence of innocence.'"

    Last I checked, the burden of proof was on the prosecution, not the accused. Why does this man have to prove his innocence? Is there enough evidence to prove his lack of guilt? "Innocent" and "not guilty," in legal terms, are NOT mutually exclusive.

    I don't know much about this case, but I know that the prosecution is required to prove the accused is guilty. The accused is NOT required to prove his innocence.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. C.

    Who else was there? That may be the real killer??? Anybody, who else could have it been?????????

    September 20, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Pitoy

    He is guilty as fcuk!

    September 20, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. proudanchorb

    What did you expect? he is black. He is guilty. If he was white he would only serve two years the most. We all know that.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tee

      Go back to Mexico if you don't like American justice. Most are already headed back.

      September 20, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. georgia

    Hang that black koon..I'm from Georgia and he deserves what gets

    September 20, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lunasol

    How on earth can this proceed? There is reasonable doubt being raised, enough to grant clemency.... Oh wait I guess the infantile, uneducated parole board of Georgia need to meet there yearly quota. It's amazing how they deny this is race related, when I bet 4 times outta 5 if this guy had been white he would've had a new trial by now based of the overwhelming amount of questionable evidence and conflicting witness statements that have come to light. For such "God-fearing" nation and one supposedly based on prinicples of fairness and justice you should be ashamed.
    Also for a country that has such debt woes maybe suspending your "capital punishment" penalty might ease the purse strings ..... It takes tens of millions of dollars to put an inmate to death ( mandatory appeals etc.) and roughly 300k to house an inmate for the rest of his/her life. Not to mention, this case aside, sticking a needle in the arm and going to sleep is a lot better then having to spend the rest of your life locked up in solitary.
    Giving someone a life sentence also allows for the fct that perhaps a wrong can be corrected in the event the wrong person was found guilty.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      Luna, I think this case has huge flaws and he should be facing life instead of the needle, but I live near Savannah. Anyone who goes to that bus station that time of night and isn't catching a bus is either a low-life criminal or lost. That place has been a doghouse since the Sixties, and MacPhail probably would have died anyway after eating at that Huddle House. Davis is a loser and society won't miss him, but the Law is getting a black eye right now.

      September 20, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. DARTH VADER

    tick tick tick

    September 20, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Anne

    Congrats, white people of Georgia. Keeping lynching legal thru 2011.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • LADYDI

      stop playing the race card here. I dont believe in the DP but race has nothing to do with this. Anyway if Amnesty Internation fought for clemency for him, then its probably true that he is innocent – after all, they dont step up to the plate for someone they believe is guilty of a murder.......

      September 20, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      Don't be a fool – if everyone in Georgia was happy about this you wouldn't be reading this story. Savannah has a decent justice system and isn't known for railroading, and that's why this case stands out.

      September 20, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. T

    Wow @ some of these comments. When issues like this come up it shows just how divided we really are as americans. It seems as long as we pass bad values down to our childrens there will always be the blk and white issue. This case should not been seen as a race issue, rather if someone is being put to death that may be innocent. I for one do not believe in the DP, becasue what gives the state the right to kill someone if we preach that killing is wrong. The gentleman has made some horrible decisions in his life, there is not doubt about that. The question at hand is did he kill the officer. We need to teach our children right from wrong, that way they are never put in postions where there innocence is in doubt. At the end of the day Mr. Davis fate here in this hateful world has been decided. His focus not should be how he will be juged in the next world. God be with us all.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. alexnden

    I don't know if he did it or not, but you can't "unkill" a person. You better be 1000% sure.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. lpseypm

    What happened to democracy? With almost a million signatures, the Pope, and major human rights organizations like Amnesty International rallying for another trial, FIVE people get to decide this man's fate?? Sickening.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jake

    Remind me never to step food in Georgia. If someone can look at me dirty and have me executed despite having reasonable doubt in this day an age...

    No wonder America has become such a laughingstock to other countries. They are progressing while we are slowly bleeding out, perpetuating ignorance and supporting senseless murders and all the things we used to abhor and scold other 'backwards' and 'less developed' nations for taking part in.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. AJ

    Juice him get closure for that family. I'm so sick of the race finger pointing! Who cares we are all the same...human! Now juice his ass!

    September 20, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
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