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. juan perez

    you broke the cardinal rule son,you got caught

    September 20, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Philip

    This is an absolute outrage from a judicial perspective. What the Georgia courts have done is created a loophole on reasonable doubt. The supreme court remanded it back to the district for an evidence hearing, and then in the evidence hearing, the judge set a standard of having to prove innocence in order to get a new trial. So basically, they said "It doesn't matter how bad the evidence was... If we made witnesses lie and secured an initial guilty verdict based solely on false testimonies, you're no longer protected by the reasonable doubt standard and automatically have a higher burden of proof that falls on you, than that which initially fell on the prosecution when they lied to put you away in the first place." If this case DOESN'T outrage you, then you clearly have no understanding of how our judicial system is supposed to work, and have no business commenting, let alone voting or serving on a jury.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cajun_Dude

    Shooting a man in the face and pistol-whipping another is not a sign of being forward thinking and progressive, its being a violent thug. Might be your idea of an ideal citizen, but not mine. If this violent thug was wearing sheet as you said, it doesn't change much of anything.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. TJeff1776

    No Justice system is perfect and sometimes RARELY is some innocent soul is even executed wrongly BUT ya don't throw the baby out with the dirty bath water. My arguement with the whole show IS that it takes so long. How many times have we observed these events requiring twenty and twenty-five years. By then many bleeding hearts start feeling sorry for those convicted murderers and want their sentence reduced to life(fed, clothed, and watched twenty-four hours a day for the rest of their lives). Death row convicts require a minimum $ 60,000 per year; all others about $ 45,000 per annum. A taxpayer must justly feel " GEE, I didn't kill anybody- why should I be punished". AND its not enough for ANYONE to rationalize by saying "GEE- thats the price one must pay for democracy and justice. TRUTH IS- the system is OUT OF WHACK. In southern slang- get it fixed OR get'er done. Eight months is enough for appeals- even IF he/she is found innocent later. Life is that way. Twenty years ?????? C'mon people- get real.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jake

    Let's see, on the same day one set of witnesses that knew him saw him shoot a man in the face at a day time pool party, then a set set of witnesses that day saw him pistol whip a homeless man, and then a third set saw him shoot the officer three times in the face as he begged fo his life. Now millions want this guy free. Are there millions concerened with his victims. Gas him then God will determine his guilt.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jake

    Let's see, on the same day one set of witnesses that knew him saw him shoot a man in the face at a day time pool party, then a different set of witnesses same day saw him pistol whip a homeless man, and then a third set saw him shoot the officer three times in the face as he begged for his life. Now millions want this guy free. Are there millions concerned with his victims. Gas him then God will determine his guilt.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • jR Dawizkid

      So do you think that God will forgive those who execute Troy Davis? Whats the difference? The commandment is do not kill. There are no condition's and Jesus also said "Love thy neighbor as you love thy self." You can't say that it is not lawful to kill (I'm sorry humanly execute in the name of "Justice") another human being, but it is OK for the Government to do so because it is "Justice"?

      Why do I even bother with reasoning with you filthy rags who are set in your ways? There is no reasoning with fools I'll just pray for you in Jesus name.

      September 20, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Par For The South

    Anybody who kills some pig is a hero who took out some of the trash in America.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nick

    If you want the death penalty abolished, then you must vote carefully.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MAVF

    Betcha you won't pull that klan outfit your face....what cowards. Liar, liar hearts on fire!!!!

    September 20, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jR Dawizkid

    I'm not convinced either way but I do have a question.
    Why can't we just eliminate the death penalty altogether? I mean do we really think that by murdering another person; even though they themselves murdered someone, is the answer.

    I promise you when the State murders Troy Davis, his supposed victims family will not feel any better. It is far better to forgive someone and not burn in Hell, than to hold onto hatred throughout the remaining years of your life on earth then go on and burn in hell. Lets say Troy is Guilty, it would be better justice to ensure that he relives the consequences of his actions by constantly being reminded of his crime at the brink of insanity than to kill him.
    We can waterboard terrorists but its crual and unsually to treat our valued criminals the same way.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • conradshull

      On one condition, the murderer must NEVER be allowed to be in a position to harm anyone else EVER for the rest of his or her life. That means solitary confinement for life with massive shackles and chains when contact with other humans is absolutely necessary.

      September 20, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • jR Dawizkid

      Now you are talking. If i committed a crime I should be punished not killed. It is to easy to sentence a man to death and all State sanctioned executions criminalize the executioners in the eyes of God.

      September 20, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Alan

    Let him die, he already has been convicted of shooting another man in the face then beating another man down with the gun. These kinds of people do not deserve mercy no matter if they are white or black.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • jR Dawizkid

      What you mean, "These People". I'm sorry I just had to say it. Its the first time as a minority that I got to say it.

      I hear what your saying but executing him is not going to bring the victim back and is certainly not Justice. In my opinion.

      September 20, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bruce

    Specific recanted testimony (testimony that formed the vast majority of the case that convicted Davis) and new testimony that clearly (and convincingly) implicates Coles as the shooter.

    Joseph Washington
    “I saw Sylvester Coles – I know him by the name Red – shoot the police officer. I am positive that it was Red
    who shot the police officer…”

    September 20, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • yeltzin

      perhaps he wouldn't care to take a polygraph test?

      September 20, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      What? You know as well as everyone else that polygraphs are not considered as evidence.

      September 20, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chris

    what was the board thinking . if the Indigo Girls say not guilty . they should listen

    September 20, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MAVF

    Is there a chance that someone confesses to this crime after the execution is over......if so, should we execute this new guy? What a joke.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jake

    Society and the wonderful Federally overseen school system have convinced American caucasians that they and only they are the big bad racists and all other shades are victims. It has also convinced our children that there is no God and it is fine to kill the unborn. This man may die, but it will not be due to his color but the fact that he shot two innocent people in the face and beat up a homeless man same day and one died. His color is what is helping him avoid his fate that he himself filled with his own anger and malice.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • AMAzed!!!

      So it's OK to kill a living human being, but not OK to have an abortion... Interesting...

      September 20, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • observer

      you were there? did you see this first hand? WOW you should call the Georgia board so you can fil lthem in on your information. All these things that you "know" are just hysteria in which you are dancing to the drum beat, a witch hunt. You know nothing, just what you others have said – that you want to believe. the fact is that we don't know- we dont know – nobody knows anything, this is why the death penalty is a horrible idea.

      September 20, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • toelle h

      You bring up an interesting observation. Many in our society find ending the life of a convicted person very abhorrent . However that same society stands idly by and not a peep is heard as thousands of lives are ended by that same society against those who have committed no crime. Something does not match up here. Respectively submitted th

      September 20, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
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