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. Bruce

    Why execute Troy Davis for the murder that Sylvester Coles committed?

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

      There is physical evidence. The shell casing are all the same. He PLEAD guilty to shooting the firt person in the face. His own admission. Then the exact same shell casing are around the dead cop. Yes, the analysis of the bullets themselves were inconclusive, but have you ever seen what happens to a bullet when it's fired? It's a mangled mess. But we know it came from the same shell. That's basically like saying we can't prove you were in a certain place, but we know the shirt you're wearing was there. And in none of the recanted statements has anyone suggested or said he did NOT do it. What they are recanting are insignificant details, like whether he ran east or southeast or if his shoes were Nike or Addidas. 90% of this case is airtight and now after tons of shenanigans, the defense has managed to find 10% that isn't. They have no other explanations and can't disprove any of it, they just have a tiny bit of slight of hand. Read all the fact, like the clemency board did, and you'll come to the same conclusion – he's GUILTY.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      "The shell casing are all the same."

      Coles was with Davis that night. He could have been using the same gun. The physical evidence, even if it proves the same gun was used, does not prove who pulled the trigger. There are eyewitnesses, who were suppressed, that heard Coles confess to the murder and also who saw him shoot the cop.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      Why did Davis's mother wash the clothes he was wearing the night before? Why did they find forensic evidence on them where they were found in the dryer? Why did his lawyer only say that the evidence was gotten improperly but couldn't deny the evidence (blood, brain matter??) was there? Why did his mother say he was with her when he wasn't?

      September 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jenniffer

      Annapo: where did you hear he pled guilty to anything. Thats not true. The guy who was shot said it probably wasn't him because they didn't even now each other, and his friend who was there didn't think it was Davis either.

      This is a direct quote from the article above that you obviously DID NOT READ:

      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.

      Where are you people getting this misinformation?

      September 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Mary, while you are asking speculative questions, why didn't the police get a search warrant to collect the evidence? If they were incompetent enough to gather evidence in such a manner, were they not possibly corrupt enough to plant the blood/brain evidence where it was "found" in the dryer?

      Seriously... I don't understand why people would trust the cops, especially cops in the south the day after one of their own gets killed and they think a black man did it...

      Oh noes... we can't say that, now can we?!

      September 20, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dave

    There are alot of people demanding his death and even going as far to say that he will burn in hell. My question is, really? One thing is for sure,he's had 22 years to prepare to meet his end. I dont know if he is guilty or not. But what if he did repent? What if he does make it to heaven, then what are you so-called conservative Christians going to say? I sure hate to think of him being put to death if he is innocent. But if that becomes the case, he wont have to worry about suffering under anymore injustices. If he is guilty and has made his peace with God, then he wont have to suffer under the scorn of a blood thirsty society. Dont think society has won by putting him to death.

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

      Luckily for you, heaven is a lie.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Dave, anyone demanding Mr. Davis' death and saying he will burn in hell is not a conservative Christian and I hope that's not your personal view of how real Christians feel.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • avayandia

      Society wins putting someone to death because we won't honestly do life without parole. And there are people who really need to be removed forever from society. Every year Charles Manson gets to go up for parole. How messed up is that? Do you know what he did to those people and every year he gets to apply to be back on the streets?

      September 20, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • f

      Let God judge him when he gets to Heaven's Gates. First he has to get to Heaven. So please execute him now.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      Even if he repents, he is still tree food.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Robert Freid

    From what I read in this article, he seems guilty to me. What's wrong with these bleeding hearts?

    September 20, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • justiceforall2

      seems you must be religious to say such horrible things. Look at the evidence. Another man said he did it. Proves to me no god, get used to it America this will go down in history as the hangings by the KKK. Disgraceful.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      I'm not particularly religious, but I do have some common sense.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • .

      Wow. So now we are executing people because they "seem" guilty?
      Whatever happened to reasonable doubt?

      September 20, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Alison

    I'm all for the death penalty if you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person in question actually committed a murder. In this case, the evidence seems to be a little shaky. I wouldn't feel right throwing that switch.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. McCain-in-4

    "Justice Delayed is Justice Denied", huh? Another way to look at this, we shouldn't put anybody to death on the spur of the moment, nor should it be a person "spirtually numb" by the crime and the ensuing trial process. 10 years to come to terms with the enormity of it all, and possibly find salvation – Great! If a man "innocent" of the death-penalty sentence can prove enough to overturn the conviction, then 10 years (22 years, in Troy Davis' case) would be more than enough.

    The fact that some of the seven people have recanted their testimony is troubling. Those who swore TO GOD their testimony was true convicted this man, who is possibly "innocent" of this crime. That is something those seven (or less) will have to live with and account for with God. Sad to say, nothing those seven (or less) promised to prosecutors PREVENTED THEM FROM TELLING THE TRUTH ON THE STAND. The jury convicted; the parole board (if they accounted for the recanted testimony) had enough evidence to keep the conviction, based upon two witnesses' untainted testimony and the unrefuted timeline.

    Troy Davis WAS in the convenience store. Troy Davis did shoot another person at a pool party. Troy Davis (at the time) commanded enough respect by the other partiers to be driven to the convenience store for beer. Myself, I would not be friendly disposed to anyone who shot a fellow guest – I WOULD BE SCARED into submission before driving an out-of-control maniac anywhere.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Justin Case

    Seems to me, at the very least his attorneys aren't denying he SHOT SOMEONE IN THE FACE at a party.

    So everyone agrees he was willing to commit murder... he SHOT someone in the FACE.

    Pure luck that person didn't die.

    I'm not saying he deserves to be executed... but innocent? I don't think so.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Whether or not Davis deserves to die, don't we–as a society–deserve to know whether it was Davis or Coles who pulled the trigger on MacPhail?

      September 20, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin Case

      Absolutely. Its not right to let a guilty man go free.

      I'm simply pointing out the fact, that whether he killed that police officer or not.... he's a dangerous and guilty man... not some pure hearted innocent guy.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jenniffer

      Not true. Do some research.

      Even the guy who was shot in the face said it probably wasn't Troy Davis because they didn't know each other, and his friend who was there had never seen Troy Davis. All he saw was a white tshirt.

      Redd Coles had a .38 that disappeared.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. justiceforall2

    You are kidding arent you. a lot of americans are living in the dark ages. look at this and find out about a white man who admitted killing and then got let off and given a college place.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Greg

    I hope Anne MacPhail can't sleep anymore after she realizes they put to death an innocent man. obviously everyone is sorry for her family's loss, does this man's life equal Justice??? the rest of the nation is still ashamed of the south. Georgia is just on a roll.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • justiceforall2

      You are one of he many good Americans who do not want to see an innocent man executed. Surely the family want justice for their son, find the real killer, I believe one has now confessed.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Duane

    The end of the article says it all:

    "The board has never changed its mind on any case in the past 33 years."

    In other words, why bother going before the board. Regardless of any proof of innocence, clemency will be denied.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • justiceforall2

      So true. I believe the parole board shouldbe at the execution . I hope when justice is done they will be prosecuted for having an innocent man killed. We shall see.
      Judge Moore should have given Troy the chance for a new trial but no .

      September 20, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • f

      That's what trials, and appeals are for. The clemency review board is the last of the last ditch efforts to stop the execution. They should be extremely picky as to what case may get reversed. Once in 33 years is too often.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Greg

    this is sick, say this out loud in public and let's see what happens

    September 20, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jackblob

    Okay, so 7 of the 9 eye witnesses have recanted their testemont and the execution is not halted? I've seen interviews members of the victims family and they don't care about the recanted testimont.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Allison

    Why is it that ever since Attorneys & Excuses were invented? NOBODY HAS EVER BEEN GUILTY!. While the victim is dead now and forever. The crime is waiting 22 years.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • forgive


      September 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • .

      Huh? Nobody is ever found guilty? This country has a higher percentage of it's population incarcerated than any other country on the planet. If you were wrongly accused of something, attorneys and excuses would be your new best friends.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Greg

    I am not sure if he is guilty or innocent. I have generally been against the death penalty but have accepted it as law. If at some time in the future it is determined beyond any doubt that he indeed is innocent, I think the people who sent him to death row should be subject to being punished with serious jail time or possiblly the death penalty themselves.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cleopatra

      I agree.. if someone is so eager to pull the switch.. if that person is found innocent then the ones who were in favor of it should get the death penalty..

      September 20, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. cherbear

    Killing this man makes the country no better than him.... studies show, the death penalty does NOT deter crime. It is NOT cost effective. As it is a system run by man, there is ALWAYS the possibility for mistake or error. Let em rot in jail for the rest of their lives. Jail-jail, not "hotel" jail. Cheaper than the dealth penalty, and avoids making a mistake that can never be undone.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • f

      As long as the guilty person is still alive, there is the possibility that he will kill again. He may escape and kill, he may kill another prisoner (who may be set for parole soon) or he may kill a guard just doing his job. after all the trials, reviews ,appeals and legal nonsense, he is still not found NOT GUILTY, then execute him and move on. How can executing him be more expensive than letting him live, providing food, shelter, medical costs, legal costs, and the possibility of him escaping or killing ?

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

      It sure deterred Gacy and Bundy.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jenniffer

      The death penalty is more expensive than life imprisonment.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      That's the misleading information always given against the death penalty, that it's more expensive than life in prison. Technically true, but that's because of the years and years of legal wrangling required around a death penalty case. It's like me saying a bicycle is more expensive than a car because you have to pay me $100 every day to wash the bicycle so over time the bicycle is more expensive. All of the unnecessary stipulations added to the death penalty make it more expensive.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. truth hurts

    so we kill in order to show that it is not right to kill and we sit back and call ourselves "civilized"

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