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. Carlos


    September 20, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. alanseago

    I am puzzled that so many people denounce Mr. Davis's conviction and sentence in such harsh terms. I wonder how many of those people have read the transcript of the trial? How many of them know what the evidence was? Presumably, after each of twelve jurors was convinced beyond reasonable doubt of his guilt, the case was appealed, and the three judges of a state court of appeals were also convinced of the propriety of the sentence. And last year a Federal judge - not part of the Georgia State judicial system - was also convinced the conviction and sentence were correct, and that the so-called evidence in Davis's behalf was "smoke and mirrors" - to quote the judge.

    So why is it that so many people, who know so little about the case, are so convinced there was an injustice? Perhaps because it's fun and rewarding to get on a pedestal and claim to be more just, more fair, more insightful, than jurors and judges? And of course, there's always the pleasure of calling your fellow CNN commenters "racist", "idiot", and worse.

    And a tip of my cap to Amy, who posted the only comment, as far as I read, about the racial make-up of the jury, of the judge's exclusion of potentially incriminating evidence.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • mypitts2

      One of the jurors said she would not convict with the evidence we have now. One juror would have spared Davis the death penalty.

      September 20, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Why is it that you neglect to mention the exculpatory evidence that was suppressed, eyewitness testimony that Coles was the shooter and testimony from people who claim to have heard Coles confess to the murder?

      September 20, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thorne

      On the topic of the jury, several of the jurors have since changed their opinion.

      September 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jenniffer

      Why do you think these people recanted their testimonies? One of them was told to sign a statement and he couldn't even read!

      September 20, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Bruce, if you are right about that evidence then this execution is nothing but another murder. If that evidence was not heard by the jury then he was railroaded.

      September 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kimberly

    No real evidence, no real witness testimonies, and nothing linking him to the crime? What other evidence do they need to know he's not guilty? That Georgie board is just showing the souths true colors. I'll mark Georgia off as a state I'll NEVER visit.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • mypitts2

      There is enough doubt to at least lead the state to hold off killing him. If the state were in any way decent or moral.

      September 20, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. moretoit

    I can see now what hate does , hate kills innocent people , Hate kills all over the world , 9/11 happened because of hate and we all are walking around hating each other. Like we are all not hating anyone , the whole thing just makes me sick to my stomach , wake up people. Troy Davis is a human being and he has a family what about his family too , wow were is the love???

    September 20, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Brandon

    It's proven that memory and certainty falter over time. That former witnesses contradict themselves is normal. Those recanting should be formally charged with perjury. Either they are recanting for political reasons or they lied in the first place. Either way, it is still a crime to lie under oath in a court of law, which is exactly what you're confessing to when you recant. Not saying this guy is guilty, but deciding it AGAIN 2 decades later is foolish.

    And quite frankly all death row inmates should be fast tracked to execution and it should be a bullet to the back of the head, not "humane execution." Their victims certainly weren't killed humanely. That we pay for their imprisonment, numerous post-trial legal battles and expensive executions is the real crime.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Hal Fishler

    For God sakes! What kind of people have we become in this country? If there's even a shadow of doubt as to the guilt of Troy Davis, the death penalty is NOT a reasonable option. Who was it who said: "I would rather see a thousand guilty men go free than see one innocent man executed"? Shame shame shame!

    September 20, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bruce

    Why is it, exactly, that so few people can fathom that there is a REASONABLE DOUBT that the person who shot and killed Mark MacPhail was NOT Troy Davis but rather it was Sylvester Coles?

    There are eyewitnesses (who were suppressed) that will testify that they saw Coles shoot the cop. Coles is one of the two "eyewitnesses" that haven't yet recanted their testimony.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      I mean, seriously. Does it not bother anybody that the murder (if it is, in fact, Sylvester Coles) will go free, even if they shed no tears for Troy Davis because he did other things that night that "deserve" to be punished?

      September 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. StopTalkingStartWorking

    Please – execute him and carry on. Too many people have nothing to do, but discuss an issue of convicted murderer fate...
    Shoot him, like feral rat.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Right, kill him and let the real murderer (Sylvester Coles) go free, and never question the competence and professionalism of the cops who convicted the wrong man...

      September 20, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      I bet your tune would change if that was your son on the block. The jury make their decision based on the information they have at the time. When the judge and police get to limit the evidence that the jury hears there is an opportunity that the truth will be missed and a wrongful conviction will occur.

      September 20, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jenniffer

    Here is a link that gives the affidavits of the recanted testimonies. The people didn't just come forward last week-this has been going on for a very long time! The jailhouse snitch recanted in 1996!‘where-is-the-justice-for-me-the-case-of-troy-davis-facing-execution-in-georgia?page=12

    September 20, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lou

      get a job!!!!! daddy will only support u for so long!!!

      September 20, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MrMe

    So let me get this straight..... we're still killing people as a means to deter people from killing people? Got it....

    September 20, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brandon

      Yeah, because life in what passes for prisons these days is such a deterrant. People are willing to go to jail/prison. Most will avoid a situation they believe will result in their death. Seriously, where do people come up with these non-arguments?

      September 20, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Terry

    I support the Death Penalty but if there is evidence that this man may have not committed the crime, then he needs a new trial. The Death Penalty should only be applied when there is guilt that is 100 percent. Not 90 or 80 percent guilt.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jrh512

    Over the years, I have changed form being a proponent of the death penalty to being against the death penalty. Since the discovery of DNA, it has been proven that hundreds of innocent people have been executed for crimes they did not commit. I would rather see a thousand guilty murders set free than for one innocent person to be executed. I have no opinion on Davis' guilt or innocence.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mike Fairbanks

    As a Christian I shall defer to Christ. He asked, "what is the punishment?" They said execution. He agreed with that punishment, since it was God's law. Then he said something that all true Christians honor: "Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone."

    So, Troy Davis needs to be executed if that's the law. But only a fellow human being who has never sinned must carry out the execution.

    That's the way Christians believe.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Caveman

      If there is not 100% definitive evidence that this man killed anyone, then there should be no death sentence. On the other hand, if there was witnesses that could identify him 100% and saw him shoot someone, that's a different story.

      September 20, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Yeah, but see, Georgia doesn't use stones to kill murder convicts, so that verse doesn't apply...

      September 20, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Colin

      A. I am glad to see that you speak for ALLChristians, glad to see that point cleared up.
      B. If you don't believe in sin, than I guess anyone could be an executioner.
      C. Your god knows a lot about killing, as he kills millions of people in the bible, and there is that "eye for an eye' thing he also supports.

      September 20, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger Vincent

      Well as a fellow Christian. I can tell that you are twisting scripture and have taken that scripture out of context. There is absolutely no relation to the Troy Davis case and you are practicing bad hermeneutics.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      Why don't you shove your bible in your A@#!!! See if you can find a quote from Jesus about that one!!!

      September 20, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      With all do respect sir, you do NOT speak for all Christians.

      The law of the land must be carried out. The man who will "pull the trigger" is simply obeying the laws that were dictated to be followed.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MazeAndBlue

    The same OLD SOUTH

    September 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • scot

      An't that the truth !!!!!

      September 20, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eaglemom

      Actually no, it's not the same OLD SOUTH. I am sick of seeing people stereotype all southerners as racist and ignorant! I think that the parole board probably had alot more accurate information to take into account than "the people" and the media. (Yeah you can believe everything you read in print or see on the news....OKAY) I'm sure it was not just a quick glance and quick judgement to let this man's execution proceed. I would imagine that they wouldn't want to put to death someone who didn't deserve it, as much as I or anyone else wouldn't. This isn't the days of lynching mobs and such, so just get real.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mary

    If someone stood over my 27 year old son and shot him in the heart and face, I wouldn't have a heck of a lot of "forgiveness" in me either.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Think B4 U Post

      Ok, right. Just be careful what kind of emotions you do keep in. Bitterness is some nasty stuff. (must be the 'bitter' part)

      September 20, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • wildbynature

      You wouldn't have a lot of evidence that he even did it, either.

      September 20, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Are you 100% convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that this is the murderer? 100% positive. No turning back.

      September 20, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
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