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. Ron

    For everyone bashing the ga clemency board with accusations of racism here's a fun fact for you the ga state board of pardons and paroles consists of 5 people 2 of them are african american. Are they racist as well?

    September 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • MAVF ni#$1!..Oops did I spill the beans. Get real.!!! Still love to use that lame reasoning...well we have a black....that should do it.

      September 20, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bob Newhart

    See ya!! Wouldn't want to be ya!!!

    September 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mary

    I don't understand this.. If the witness's recanted.. How can they still execute him?
    If their testimony was what convicted him.. Then how can they execute him when they recant??
    The verdict should not be etched in stone.. Un do able..
    This is a person's life.. There are no no overs...~!
    It's not as if he is getting out of jail~!
    good grief~!

    September 20, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • vtguy

      Undestand this, are they lying now or were they lying then?

      September 20, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ron

    For everyone bashing the ga clemency board with accusations of racism here's a fun fact for you the ga state board of pardons and paroles consists of 5 people 2 of them are african american. The boards decision to deny clemency was unanimous so I guess the 2 african american board members are racist as well

    September 20, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. slukey

    Don't know how the people on that board can live with themselves. It's one thing if there is actual proof but to have all these open questions – it's an insult to our intelligence and should be to their too!

    September 20, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. pierce

    Troy, say "hey" to Satan for me.
    I'll be there in a few years.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chad

    First of all.......... Maybe we should stop wasting tax dollars on trials since no one is ever satisfied with the verdict. We will just call who ever has the number one album or movie at the time for their opinion. I pray for the victims family. Do people realize that by questioning a jury( I'm sure it because they have not a clue as to what went on during trial and only know what our great media tells them) that after 15 years, this country will have well over a million dollars on a murderer. But yet we can't afford to pay our troops. I am one of them.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      LOL Chad. This country pays its troops all the time. Stop pretending otherwise. They get raises when nobody else in government gets raises. QQ moar.

      The money argument is stupid. If Sylvester Coles was the one who shot MacPhail, justice is not served by executing Troy Davis. Period.

      No amount of money saved gets us past that fact.

      September 20, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chad

      Bruce..... I am in the Reserves and we had to Dates back because we were told if we showed up, we would not get paid......... So, I can defend my country and get told there is no money, but we spend billions on individuals who will never even be able to vote. Free food, healthcare, clothing. (not that I would want that lifestyle). Its just the point that we have a system in place and someone will always be unhappy. Just an example on how our leaders waste my tax dollars

      September 20, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      "I am in the Reserves and we had to Dates back because we were told if we showed up, we would not get paid."

      If that's true, talk to your Congressional Representative. My guess is that this was not top-down policy making going on, but midlevel management telling you lies to get you to not complain about not being paid.

      In any case, no amount of money saved, even if it winds up back in your paycheck from your government job, makes executing Troy Davis for the murder committed by Sylvester Coles into justice.

      September 20, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Harry Pairatestes

    Is there any criminal conviction that Amnesty International agreed should result in the death penalty?

    September 20, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • jack

      For such a heinous crime, being incarcerated for decades is payment in full in a civilized country.

      September 20, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim F.


      September 20, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Factors

      Even John Wayne Gacy claimed innocense before he was executed. Are to believe them all?

      September 20, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Harry Pairatestes

    So the two black members of the parole board who voted for the denial of clemency are also knuckle dragging, sheet wearing racists?

    September 20, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Not All Docs Play Golf

    When we as a sociey conduct an execution, each of us dies a little. There is nothing good that comes from this. Nothing.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Som

      Well said. Incarceration fine. Playing God? stupid

      September 20, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • kutie

      AGREED...this solves nothing bcuz it wont bring the loved one back. It olny adds to the family bitterness and solves absolutely NOTHING, especially if they are still hurting after all these years. PITY...

      September 20, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. proudamerican

    this is not about race. the guy is convicted of killing a cop. should be capital murder, but the cop was off duty. if you read the story, he also shot 2 other people. doesent matter what race he is. he has been convicted, sentenced, lost all appeals, and now must serve sentence for his crimes. stop trying to make it racial. this is why America cannot focus on our real problems. play the race card, distort the facts to support it, and hope it works. we should be focusing on the facts, and not color it.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Right. Focus on the facts.

      Like the fact is that it is reasonable to doubt whether it was Troy Davis or Sylvester Coles who pulled the trigger on MacPhail. Focus on that.

      September 20, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • osaxono

      Thats right Bruce you were there 20 years ago and have reviewed all the evidence in the case personally right? You disposed he witnesses yourself right? Your a regular Matlock. The cop was off duty but in uniform.

      September 20, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      osaxono: Not me, but the jury that was there and convicted him 20 years ago, knowing what they know now, say that Troy Davis probably didn't do it.

      September 20, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rm.Davis

    I don't understand why the NAACP is involving themselves either in this matter let along the President and Black Ministers as some have suggested on other blogs if this Man was truly innocent it seems to me that after twenty years of he did it he didn't do it the truth would have surface some where,plus some of the people gawking about this now probably were not even born and even more importantly where were they when the trial was being held and ultimately his conviction why did they not speak out about this then I mean why now?? most of these people only know about this case because of what they have read or heard recently in the news I feel sorry for both families but I beleive if he was innocent he would not be dying tomorrow he would have prevail in this matter against every court in the country.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jack

    Kill a cop, death row. A cop kills you, the DA whitewashes it after a "drop gun" is placed in the victims hands.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • osaxono

      Dont put yourself in a situation where a cop is pulling a gun on you? Oh thats right all cops are racists and all criminals were perfect angels.

      September 20, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. pierce

    Troy, take some weiners with you. it will be hot where you are going.. Hotter than in Atlanta.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • kutie


      September 20, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mary

    Found guilty by a jury of his peers.. so "when you look at it this way he is innocent"..??
    Casey anthony was found innocent from a jury of her peers...
    Juries get wrong some times.
    You have to be open to the possibility that this time they were wrong too.. There is no justice if they execute a innocent man and the guilty is free.
    Witness's recanting? It's worth another look.. he wouldn't get out of jail.. It's not like he would be free anyway.. So why execute based on a trial that might have had the wrong outcome?
    Thats not justice.. Thats just getting even..
    Thinking this will set them free?
    I think once it's done.. This execution will haunt them..
    No one wins here... Some are bigger loosers for sure..

    September 20, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • osaxono

      Oh god shut many appeals did he LOSE in 20 years..he was not only found guilty by a jury of his peers..he was found guilty 10 times over...notice he also shot OTHER people prior to the cop? Hes a POS and I hope his death is slow and painful.

      September 20, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
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