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. JACK


    September 20, 2011 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
    • John Locke

      Jack-huh? I think you forgot to take your meds. And turn off the caps.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Capitan

      L. Ron? Is that you?

      September 20, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Trevelyan

    I'm all for the death penalty, but if there's even a shadow of a doubt then the execution should be stopped.

    Some say, Better an innocent man dies, than a hundred guilty men go free. I say it should be the other way around. A true system if justice should be blind, never looking at race, gender or religion but looking for truth instead.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Warp0

      Absolutely. The "evidence" in this case is weak and police coercion makes things worse. We should not be executing people in his shoes. Same thing with that Texas arson case.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Margroks

      I also agree with the death penalty for heinous crimes such as murder BUT it has to be a certainty that the accused is guilty. The Founding Fathers agreed with you, saying that it's better a guilty man go free than an innocent man be convicted. That is why the burden of proof in a criminal trial is set so high. If, as it sounds here, there is reasonable doubt then a new trial should be ordered. It's also true that convicting or killing the wrong man means the true criminal is off scott free. They should retry if new evidence or changes in witness statement warrant it. You cannot undo an execution. I can understand that the widow wants justice but it isn't justice if this is the wrong man-it's just another murder, this time santioned by the State.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  3. TZ

    No suprise his bid for clemency was denied. The Ga board of pardons and parole has never reversed their decision.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • quitsa

      Welcome to the racist South. 7 out of 9 witnesses recanted and he still gets put to death. The parole board should be wearing their white hoods and hanging him from a tree.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. vjones

    Mrs. McPhal would not care who was executed. As long as some one black paid for her sons death. She would have Troy Davis lynched if she could. All she smells is the blood of a black man. She thinks she will be satisfied when Troy Davis is executed, but she will be very disappointed. Vengence belongs to God, not her. Mrs. McPhail, you need more mercy than Troy Davis.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • How many will there be?

      Racist number one, and counting.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • JJ5484

      You are misquoting scripture to support your position. If you want to go with scripture, how about "thou shall not kill". The fact of the matter is the guy was found guilty and he needs to pay based upon the laws of the land. When one is convicted what would you have society do, just let them go or perhaps put them in a cell til they pass 60 years later? Get real.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • nonya

      Actually VJones didn't misquote scripture. " Vengence is mine, I will repay" says the Lord. And you are right too, Thou Shall not kill.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • abidingdude

      Have you ever met Mrs. McPhail, or are you just making a generalization about someone based on where they live? Prejudice much?

      September 20, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • just me

      Truth be told a LOT of AMERICANS will be Happy when this man is put to death, it no more then he deserves, and it ,matters not who blood the mother of the slain officer be "smelling" . Justis has been served....

      September 22, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. downwithneonazies

    where's the list of the board members?

    September 20, 2011 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • cardo

      where's your home address? I might want to do a drive-by!! Just because I don't believe in your right to a intelligent, reasoned decision based on facts and information that you receive from court testimory, independent reports and witnessees. All opinions and decisions should be formulated based on speculations and bits and pieces of information that you gain from the internet. You should be hounded and ridiculed for having arrived a decision that I don't agree with.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  6. Cwonder

    White cop murdered. Black suspect in custody. Guess that's enough for them to convict. Some ask "Well why did he run?" He ran because he's black and afraid of police like many many black people are. Police are not known for serving and protecting when it comes to black people. They only abuse, harrass and kill. What a shame !

    September 20, 2011 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Shauna

      are you serious? I know SEVERAL black cops who think and know this man is GUILTY! Get over yourself and stop playing the damn race card... life isnt fair race card. I cant find a job race card... i cant afford what I want race card. Life sucks RACE CARD! Blame the whites RACE CARD! sheesh

      September 20, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • How many will there be?

      Racist number two, and counting.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
    • JJ5484

      Incredible. If that is as deep as your analysis of the crime is going to go, then I am glad you are not on a jury. In the words of Dr. King, "One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws." Tell me where it is ok to kill a police officer.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • KMS

      Why is it I wonder that it is perfectly fine to call it a hate crime if a white person kills a black person? What about when a black person kills a white person? It's not politically correct to call it a hate crime. Instead it's reversed and the white people who are incensed by a tragic death are called racists. I'm not racist at all. Nearly all of my co-workers are black. I entertain black people in my home and I am white. And for the record I believe due to the evidence that this man is guilty – black or white. He murdered two people. Why should he get clemency? Because CNN posted 1/5 of the whole story?

      September 20, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • just me

      man can sure tell your black and just WHY are YOU so scared of cops? I mean you had Martin Luther King oh yeah he got shot cause he HAD A DREAM !! And where I come from you run from a cop you GUILTY,m go figure, black or NOT

      September 22, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  7. marc varela

    There should be a hold to the execution until the cloud of doubt is resolved. PATHETIC JUSTICE!

    September 20, 2011 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jahman

    Strange Fruit XXI Century

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

    cruelhonesty, I do not think the death of another would bring my loved one back.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • KMS

      No it doesn't bring them back. It doesn't even really ease the pain. But what it does do is stop that person from ever having the opportunity to murder another and put another family through what both grieving families in this case are. It also keeps my tax dollars from having to pay for him to obtain three meals a day, air conditioning, free expanded cable television, access to any medical attention and supplies that he needs, etc. People in this country are such huge bleeding hearts and while that is good to a point, we also need to realize that keeping this man alive in a jail cell will not only NOT rehabilitate or teach him anything, but also cost what the salary of one, two, three people might make in a year!

      September 20, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Amy

    This is a sad day for Troy, Georgia, Americans and the World. Yes, some may say the justice system worked, but in fact it has not. Doubt is doubt. How would you feel if it was you? We all have been accused of something we have not done and how did you feel? Nothing absolutely NOTHING will be accomplished from this execution! The only thing it will prove is that peer pressure does not end after high school, it continues until we are able to step up, take responsibilty and be courageous in all situations, whether it is the popular decision or not.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  11. Chris C from the D

    Very sad.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  12. hecep

    Well, that's that: If the victim's mother is "... very convinced that he is guilty" (her grammar is sparkling), then Davis absolutely, irrevocably, uncontrovertibly, must be guilty. Forget all the rest.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
  13. luther

    hmmm.........,seven witnesses recanted. that leaves two. two witnesses testimony against one lying defendant. GOOD CALL, georgia!!!!! now, please hurry up and fry his ass.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • hecep

      I wonder if similar boorish hyperbole was used in the cases where those who were executed were later found to be innocent.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
    • just me

      WELL SAID !!!!!

      September 22, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Flipmode

    Nobody cares who Troy Davis is. Or Mark MacPhail. Everyone only cares that some guy on the way to be executed despite all the witnesses coming forward saying they lied under oath.

    My personal opinion? Not that many people have guilty consciences that they came forward willingly. Just throwing that out there.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
  15. Karen

    Texas already excuted an innocent man – wouldn't listen to a late report and he was executed. Later it was PROVEN that the 'arson-murder' wasn't arson at all, but rather an electrical accident. Now Georgia can be the second State to kill an innocent manl; AND allow the real killer (and pistol-whipper) to go free!

    September 20, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Eaglemom

      But what about the guy he shot in the face at the party?

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

      EagleMom: read below. Davis never pled guilty to that. The person who was shot, as well as his friend who witnessed it said they didn't know Davis and he was not positively identified as the shooter. Redd Coles had the same kind of gun that miraculously disappeared. Redd Coles was the first to go to the cops to say Davis did it. AND there have been many affidavits taken that state Redd Coles admitted to the murder of Officer McPhail. Redd Coles is one of the two "witnesses" that haven't recanted their testimony.

      Coles admitted arguing with Young but stated that Davis had hit him with a pistol.[21] On cross-examination, Coles admitted that he also had a .38 pistol, but stated that he had given it to another man earlier that night.[18] A neighbor of the Davis family, Jeffrey Sapp, testified that soon after the murder Davis had confessed to him.[21] Kevin McQueen, a former fellow prisoner, testified that Davis had confessed to shooting MacPhail as he feared that the officer would connect him to the shooting of Cooper earlier in the evening.[22] Cooper testified that he was inebriated when shot and said that Davis "don't know me well enough to shoot me".[20] A friend of Cooper's, Benjamin Gordon, stated that the man who shot Cooper was wearing a white T-shirt, though on cross-examination he admitted he did not know Davis and had not seen the person who shot Cooper.[20] Darrell Collins, who had made an August 1989 police statement that he had seen Davis shoot at people in a car in Cloverdale and approaching MacPhail, recanted his statement under cross-examination by the defense, saying that he made the statement after threats by police with prison if he did not cooperate. He said in court that he had not seen Davis in possession of a gun or fire one.[20] No murder weapon – neither the gun owned by Cole nor that said to be owned by Davis – was recovered.[21] A ballistics expert testified that the .38 caliber bullet that killed MacPhail could have been fired from the same gun that wounded Cooper at the pool party, though he admitted doubt about this. However, he stated he was confident that .38 casings found in Cloverdale matched one allegedly later found by a homeless man near the scene of MacPhail's shooting.[23]

      For the defense, Davis' mother testified that Davis was at their Cloverdale home on August 19, 1989, until he left for Atlanta with his sister at about 9 pm[24] Davis denied shooting MacPhail, saying he had observed Coles striking Young after a quarrel about beer, but that he had fled before any shots were fired and did not know who had shot the officer. He also denied shooting Cooper.[24][25]

      September 20, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
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