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. justiceforall2

    Am ging now said all I have to say. Americ a a Christain country, I think not. Well I suppose when the parole board go to hell they will meet the KKK. Bye

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

      What does "christian country" mean? Does a gun know what a christian is?

      September 20, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MSmith

    Casey Anthony goes FREE because of DOUBT...and yet with ALL of the DOUBT that has been brought to light regarding this man's guilt he will be put to DEATH. WAKE UP...the struggle is NOT OVER!

    September 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. yarbrough,Abrham- grandson of a slave

    PARKER OF POPULARVILLE,MS, Was taken out of popularville Jail,Baeten & tired to a Wagon WHEEL & THROWED INTO pearl river, THIS Spirit yet live in the south like TEXAS GOVERNOR & IN GEORGIA These people are fit for Public office.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Emmmet Till should have know better than to whistle and stare at that while girl....

      September 20, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. God's Son

    Racism is a tool of Satan and it still works in 2011.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dbw

    Adios, amigo !!

    September 20, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • david self

      you people who are glad about this execution must know for sure that he is 100 percent guilty. You are saying some rather stupid things. I do not know and will not pretent to know. I am not god like the role some of you are playing!! I do know it is not christian or whatever to gloat!

      September 20, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      david self... what does it matter if he actually committed that murder? Certainly he was capable of it. He had committed two violent crimes short before the cop died. Obviously, he is an individual who is prone to violence against his fellow man. That alone is justification for his execution.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Tim, if Davis didn't shoot MacPhail then someone else did–most likely Sylvester Coles. What does it matter? Well, it matters at the very least that MacPhail's murderer gets off scott-free, and the execution closes the case such that we will never know the truth.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • FreedomFighter

      If he did kill the pig, I applaud him for it.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Nick

    Another guilty thug. Nothing to see here. Move along libs...

    September 20, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mycenia

      So you're implying that only a liberal has the open-mindedness to consider the fact that the American justice system is flawed and may have condemned and innocent man? You, my friend, shame conservatives.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • what?

      The board has never changed its mind on any case in the past 33 years. – At least they're open-minded.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Yeah, nothing to see here. Just ignore the incompetent and unprofessional actions by law enforcement and prosecutors that led to the execution of Troy Davis when there is still a reasonable doubt that Sylvester Coles was the guy who pulled the trigger on MacPhail.

      Move along...

      September 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Herb

    My heart goes out to the victim.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mycenia

    I think it's simple. If we want to keep the death penalty around, fine. But if, after an execution, it is found that the prisoner was not guilty, all those responsible for his death should be held liable. Because, even if they didn't push the button, they committed murder. The margin of error and the cost multiple of appeals (which is their right) is too great just to sustain the American blood-lust.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I totally agree and each of those involved in the wrongful conviction – judge, prosecutor, etc. should all be subject to the same punishment they inflicted.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • JEM

      Since it was the job of the lawyers and the judge to find the truth, they should all be locked up; especially the prosecution.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jj

    NO ONE should be executed if there is ANY question of guilt. To me, this is a much bigger qualifier than low IQ, a rotten childhood, the 'voice of god', age or anything. I'm all for a limited death penalty. If a guilty man stays in prison for the rest of his life, that's real punishment. If an innocent man is killed – there is no way to make amends.
    And it is very different if a person kills someone, or if the State does it. People are animals, and kill each other all the time. Capital Punishment is the government saying it is OK to kill. That should be reserved for a very select crowd. Not like in Texas or Fl /Ga.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Par for Course

    This is how it works. Find someone, put a few "noteables" together and then take the life of a human being.

    I know the family dealing with this and know that they are trying to convict an innocent man. The DNA is a mess and the whole "black SUV" story is a lie too. We have got to open our eyes up and see that Lady Justice's scales are a little bit tilted in the favor of those that have their checks signed by the government.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kevin Brooks

    The death sentence should be reserved for cases where there is no doubt what so ever, and no chance of rehabilitation withour putting the public in risk. In this case there is a lot of doubt when 7 or 9 witnesses claim police pushed them to testify, but have since recanted. This is just another story of how the justice system and victims will find someone/anyone to blame and run with that. And yeah, you can bet if this guy where white, he would not be on death row now.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Shay

    Witnesses recanting their stories and shady evidence. Did he ever have a chance in ultra racist Georgia?

    September 20, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. YeahThatsNice

    LOL! Just days ago he was shouting and exclaming how wonderful God's mercy was and how good he felt. I don't know why he was so happy because we all knew it would boil down to this anyway. Everyone knew the appeal was going to be denied and he was gonna be put to death anyway, so why build up all that excitement and hope only to be let down a million times harder? If anything, his lawyers and the people rallying behind him have done him a far greater injustice than the Justice System has, repeatedly getting him denied appeals and postponing his death. Must feel bad to live in fear all those years.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. kardiac

    The State should not and can not execute it's own citizens. How can we say we live in a free country ruled by a government of the people when that government can pick and choose which citizens to kill?

    September 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. FreshxWater

    This is the South's symbolic execution of President Obama! There is NO WAY they would grant clemency even though they know he's innocent! The South is a snake pit or racism carried on by the Republican Party!

    September 20, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Northerner stuck in the south

      I actually live in Savannah. I promise you that it's not the white republican party anything that is racist. I've lived all over the US and this is the most racist place I have ever lived and it certainly isn't the white people who are racist. Despite what people want to believe Savannah is one of the most dangerous and drug ridden cities I've ever lived in. Yes, the touristy parts are pretty, but I wouldn't raise a family here.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • sad-in-the-912

      I'm boggled at all the comments about Savannah from folks who've never visited. You'd never know it from the embarrassingly whitewashed Travel Channel specials, but the 2010 census shows we're 57.1% black, 38.9% white. 7 of the 12 jurors on the original Davis case were black. Anthony Cooper, whom Davis shot in the face, was black. Larry Young, whom Davis pistol whipped & to whose aid McPhail came, was black. This case has never been about a big white Republican city targeting an innocent black man.

      September 20, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
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