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. John

    What's wrong with life in prison when there's conflicting information that might possibly clear up later (e.g. the other suspect kills someone else, then confesses)? Once someone's been executed, it's a little too late to go back and try to make things right, I'd venture to say. The legal system seems here to have two speeds available on the shift knob: forward and reverse. It may be time to introduce P-R-N-D-2-L and other modernities.

    September 20, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. pete

    forget the troy davis case ..... he should be executed for shooting the first guy and pistol whipping the second.
    fighting for his life now though.... time to take out the trash.

    September 20, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tonza

      The NAACP is not for blacks!!! The NAACP is to protect the civil rights/liberties of any race. Before you take a stab at the NAACP, know what we stand for... This is 2011 and knowledge is out there... You know what you get when you assume!!!

      September 20, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. southern thunder

    time to die mr davis. kill a COP (convicted by 12 jurors). uh, time to die. enough tax payer bologna sandwiches for you.

    September 20, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality

      Executing a prison is far more expensive than housing him for even 40 or 50 years. The extra costs that arise from (1) prisoner are minimal. Executing him costs you money.

      Not that you should value life in monetary terms (especially those as minimal as a potential increase in your tax bill).

      September 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. steve

    why is the NAACP involved? this is an issue that race has no part of. sometimes these groups need to stay out of the way. its a matter of should a human being be put to death...NAACP getting involved furthers the notion that we need to see whites and blacks as being different. awful, awful job by the NAACP to get involved.

    September 20, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. --this is mimi--

    The irony is Duane Buck in Texas. who gleefully admits to murdering his ex girlfriend and her friend 16 years ago, just got his death sentence halted because the sentencing portion of his trial was deemed discriminatory.

    Here is Davis, with more than reasonable doubt, and Georgia denied his clemency.

    I wonder is it because no one from GA is up for re election or considering running for president.

    This case is very similar to Mumia Abu Jamal who has been wrongly incarcerated for almost 30 years in Pennsylvania.

    I do not believe every one claiming to be innocent are in fact innocent, but the judicial system is flawed and until it is totally revamped, I believe all death sentences should be put on hold.

    If it saves one innocent person from being sent to death, what is the issue?

    September 20, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mbmpdx

    How sad our arrogance which prevents us from accepting that we could have made a mistake. It's time to stand up and demand that new evidence = a new trial with a judge and jury for those states which can legally end the life of an individual. Anything less is premeditated murder.

    September 20, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. carol

    Could the president intervene?

    September 20, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      No, he can't.

      In fact, not even the governor of Georgia can intervene at this point, which was a surprise to me. It seems this committee was his last chance.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Samuel R. Preston, III

    Troy should probably not make a haircut appointment for Thursday.

    September 20, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim F.

      Yep, he'd better return that library book, too.

      September 20, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Toxic Planet

    Wow Southern Thunder, bet you wouldn't be saying that if you were one to be wrongly convicted ... yea, I'm sure you'd "step up the the plate" and take it like a man - NOT

    September 20, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Randy

    Harry Belafonte to Troy: "Ok, I believe you"

    September 20, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bob Newhart

    Tried, convicted and the conviction upheld by numerous judges. What else is there to say? Let justice finally be served

    September 20, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Justice is not served if Troy Davis is executed for the murder committed by Sylvester Coles.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bob

    So, how many of you who are making the "tax-payer" argument are actually from Georgia? Anyone? Maybe one or two? That's really the only time it applies.

    September 20, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • vtguy

      How many Federal tax dollars does Georgia receive? Checkmate stupid.

      September 20, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kim

    First of all almost EVERY single prisoner, will say they are not guilty and didn't do it. However if the witnesses have recanted and there is NO DNA linking him to crime, I have my doubts. He should not be executed.

    September 20, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mark L.

    "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth..."

    September 20, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      That's primirive old testament stuff. Not what Jesus taught.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Duffminster

    The level of prejudice and ignorance and hubris within the deeply flawed, largely unethical "justice system" is exemplified by this case. If morality, equality and fairness and law are in anyway supposed to be connected in our justice system, then our system has failed miserably as has the entire notion of the so called "corrective system." The system creates more criminals than even poverty, which is on the rise due to massive greed and ever increasing concentration of wealth into the hands of a few who, while richer than ever, constantly promote NO NEW TAXES. For what we pay to keep the non-violent and in this case innocent in jail, we could send most of the poor kids through a Harvard or Yale PH.d and stop a generational pattern of poverty that leads to crime. Unfortunatley, the entire system is based on mental, political and corruption inertia and the status quo and any creative thinking about how to make a "C" change is stymied at every turn. This case shows the vast immorality of an ingrained system of injustice, bias and the hubris of a few to destroy the life of an innocent human even in the face of vast evidence and public outcry. It is beyond reprehensible, each of those board members is committing murder and so is anyone else capable of stopping the execution. I don't think they have any remorse. That is the worst aspect of the human race and that which will likely end the long term prospects of the human species save for an emerging new understanding of Love and Social Justice within the ranks of the People of this country and the world. Bing Duffminster

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