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. yarbrough,Abrham- grandson of a slave


    September 20, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MAnuel

    I do feel bad that we as a scority through ages, have played god and decided who lives and who dies, and as a woudned Air Force veteran i have seen many ugly things in life. But Mr. Davis should not be get any special attention in regards to what the Department of Justice decides let that be on their conscience but I believe if anyone should ever been spared off his sentence was "Tookie" Williams who not only did acknowledge his nature and would rather remain in perison for life, but wrote numoreous books, and started several projects to help young kids stay away from gangs and violence. What has Troy Davis done with his prison time to show society he is a oustanding citizen? I personally let him sit in jail.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Shay

    I guess if you kill a cop you go to death row. If you kill your child (Casey Anthony) you walk free and to to therapy. This county is going down, fast.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Richard

    I'm not a supporter of the death penalty as i believe life and death decisions belong to God alone. My feelings are why execute anyone when there are so many projects that each state and the country as a whole has to complete. The criminals spend years behind bars being supported by the states in which they are jailed or being held. instead of killing them put them to work for the state you would be amazed at what a person can do with a second chance at life. Every state has roads that need repairs, bridges that need work, buildings falling apart, new projects that new to be worked on why kill something you just spent 2 decades in this case keeping alive just to say justice is seved. Put the inmates to work for their entire life and get use out of them. A dead mind and hands serves no purpose except provide nutrients to dirt. while free life labor benefits every community.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. T3chsupport

    Sounds like some reasonable doubt, no?
    Casey Anthony avoided the needle only because of 'reasonable doubt'. I didn't even think that doubt was all that reasonable, but she got away with murdering her own daughter, anyway.
    This guy, there's actually some reason to believe that it wasn't him, but they still want him dead without another question.

    Fk the backwards South.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • JEM

      OJ did not do it. Do a Google search for "OJ Guilty but not of Murder"

      September 20, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike

      You wouldn't know. You weren't part of the trial You sound like a true racist.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • someone

      Its not the "backward south". The big difference is that a police officer was killed in this case.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      He's not denying that he shot the other person at the pool party or that he didn’t pistol whipped the man at the store. Just claiming that he didn't shot the police officer. I don't care. If he did the things that he is not denying then death is good enough for him. And to your comment about the south. If it keeps you out, it's good enough for me.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. yomamayo

    "Should Troy Davis be executed, Georgia may well have executed an innocent man and in so doing discredited the justice system"

    Hmm, shot a guy in the face pistol whipped another and then killed a man. Innocent? I think not. Justice served? Absolutely!
    When he dies, thankfully one more evil person will not be around the kill, steal and destroy.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      In the meantime Sylvester Coles walks around a free man...

      September 20, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      I completely agree.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. kent

    is this justice? is this america?...perhaps if you sit on a panel like this, you should have to publically give your reasons of why you have not decided or not decided on a matter

    September 20, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike

      Maybe because the jurors decided he was guilty. and he is.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • fretlessbass

      yeah, because I hate it when I can't decide if I can't decide.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. David Shelly

    Love you folks in SC that can't wait to execute a man. Funny how the christians or I am sorry the pseudo christians are all for the death penalty. I guess the 10 commandments we love to put in our front yards are optional?

    September 20, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Austin

    If he is ever proven to be innocent of this crime after his death, I think we should execute the prosecutor, the judges, and the board of pardons members. Because there's no other redress after Davis is dead.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kareen

      If he is later found not guilty he will join a long line of others who sat in Prison for years and who later found to be innocent of the crime they were accused of.
      I sure would not like to live with that!!!!!

      September 20, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Harry

    This cop killer deserves to die.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • jack

      Do those innocents "killed by cop", i.e. Fullerton PD, deserve similar justice?

      September 20, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • yar

      Is that the only criteria? A cop holds no special position above the citizens they swore to protect. I have a problem with a organization that can take a life and has little or no accountability to that action. A organization that always demand respect and compassion but shows very little. Yeah, right! Special consideration to cops! Sheesh! You should say if ANYONE kills another, they should be put to death. Let's get it right!

      September 20, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. unowhoitsme

    Before anyone is put to death, you must KNOW FIRST HAND that he committed the murder. Otherwise, another murder has been committed.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • TANK407

      Yes, its called Reasonable Doubt. And they have plenty of it. Even the jurors are recanting. Just because the bullets matched the gun, doesnt mean he was the only one in town who had that type of gun. They cannot prove he fired ANY gun. If reasonable doubt is enough to let Casey Anthony walk... there is more than enough reasonable doubt for this man.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JEM

    OJ did not do it. Google "OJ Guilty but not of Murder"

    September 20, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tim, San Diego CA

    Is there any dispute regarding whether or not he shot someone in the face at a pool party? If he's conceding guilt to that offense then he's admitting that he was capable of murder and tried to kill someone. Georgia won't be executing an innocent man. Worst case is that they'll be executing a man for a crime he didn't commit.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      And also letting the murderer go free, and also letting the unprofessional/incompetent/corrupt cops off the hook for what they did between the murder and the conviction.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • anappo

      Agree.... Its not like he is innocent. he still shot a man in the face(he admitted to that). so he gets life in prison or execution. i wouldnt like the choices either. Again he made these choices to 1-carry a gun., 2-shoot a man. He shouldnt of put himself in that situation.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. skixtreme

    I'm all for the death penalty, IF you are found guilty. Not if there isn't enough solid evidence or witnesses have recanted the stories. If a prisoner has, throughout the course of thier incarceration maintained thier innocence then that needs to be researched alot more in depth. Usually that means the person is more often than not.... innocent.

    You also have to consider that Georgia is still run by the " Good Ole Boys " who wear white sheets on Fridays and Saturdays. LOL! If clemency hasn't been overturned in 33 years then it probably won't now, as long as you have ignorant folks full of hatred. They (politicians) just him put to death because that eliminates Georgia's tax dollars for that one individual.

    Something truly needs to be done... otherwise a presumably innocent man by all accounts will be put to death tomorrow. Georgia will you want that on your conscience

    September 20, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nate

      He is not "presumed innocent" he was found guilty by a jury. He has since tried to claim innocence, he has failed to prove to any judge that any of his so called evidence showed the slightest shred of actual innocence. We don't let killers go because witnesses get soft hearted years later, or because people pressure them into contradicting themselves. It bears saying again, he is not an innocent man. He is a convict and everything presented thus far proves that, thousands of pages prove that. As much as some would like to cloud the matter and guide people to believe he might be innocent in less than 800 words on CNN the fact is he is guilty.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Linda K

    To execute someone despite very reasonable doubt makes us no better than any murderer. I have lodged my complaint with the Georgia Dept of Corrections by phone. They take no information, but are "logging the number of calls" regarding Troy Davis's execution. It's the least any decent person would want to If you wish to do so call: 404-656-5651 Prepare to be on hold for several minutes. The man is to die. The least I can do is wait a few minutes.

    September 20, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
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