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. Peter Voth

    Hopefully this travesty of justice will bring about the abolition of the death penalty in Georgia, and the rest of the United States.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Patrick

    im white...welcome my world...I get no sympathy..you would of been dead already...

    September 20, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mike from Calgary

    He's black and this is the USA so he must be guilty right. Besides, capital punishment is OK in China and Iran and North Korea so the USA is in good company. So what if the case against him was compromised by witnesses intimidated by the police. Screw the innocence project. Executions are great entertainment.
    THE SHOW MUST GO ON. JUSTICE BE DAMNED! NOTHING LIKE A GOOD HANGING OR CEMICAL LYNCHING EH!

    September 20, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. observer

    This is very very unsettling, how we as a nation can be so blood thirsty and twisted. As bad as fel for the family of the cop that was shot- isn't killing an unarmed, helpless – caged person wrong? What is the purpose – what are we proving, what problem are we solving? I sure hope someone of power that preaches to us on TV, about how we should live our lives, get together with others at the same level and make a strong statement. I don't want blood on my hands- as a tax payer- even a soldier in a war knows that he can' murder an enemy soldier once that soldier has his hands up and is unarmed- this guy is locked up not going anywhere- I'm not even getting into the fact that this all my be BS- his guilt. Hey US Justice system can WE PLEASE SIT THIS ONE OUt- and drop the death penalty? please

    September 20, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jonny

    The United States of America IS the Culture of Death .

    Oh how we love revenge killing, War Mongering, Children running rampant with AK47s !

    AND the Death of black men ! Maybe the people of Georgia are just wishing this was Obama instead ?

    What Lovely "Christian Nation" this is!

    We SHOULD elect Perry as President in 2012 !

    He's the Perfect Mascot for The United States of Blood Lust !

    September 20, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. thomas

    Thanks Mr. Jeffrey Toobin, CNN’s about your article Troy Davis.
    Yes, That the way it was, (Justic did not serve, Pick wrong man )
    The Georgia Clemency Board, The court and Judge is Justified for Human right had been violated on US citizens, which it killing innocent people, none of its evident clear and proved Mr. Troy Davis was Guilty of that murder at the sense,
    He just be there wrong time, wrong place and His dark color skin may make him Guilty, (God shake)
    The Georgia Clemency Board, The court and Judge Corruption to cover-up the action pick wrong man on this murder case.

    September 20, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kyle

    Look, i think the death penalty is actually an easy way out. Being in prison is hell on earth. However, if this man did not commit his crime, it is unfortunate that he took the wrap for this crime, but the this person already shot someone before hand, and committed other crimes. Sometimes its better to just not break the law. Its simple, just dont do it. I blame him for all the other crimes he has committed. He deserves to serve time in prison. Prison itself is torture for some.

    September 20, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jonny

    All the haters that love death and war and murder and death penalty and guns should be the ones going to
    Afghanastan and Iraq.

    September 20, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • yeltzin

      right – send the military units who demanded the repeal of DADT- but wait – the Air Force doesn't go into the sort of conflict that produces casualties

      September 20, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jon

    Is it cause he's black?????????????????????????? Yea, Georgia has nothing better to do than send inmates to death row cuz their black.

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

      If supporters of the death penalty had a single CLUE about how much BS goes through the judicial system and how deeply flawed and blatantly racist it is. . . look at Casey Anthony getting off because of shoddy police work.

      Now we're going to kill someone because the local cops want REVENGE, nothing more. This is not Justice.

      Ordinary people are murdered all the time and their killers doen't see the death penalty , not as common or quick as if you kill the high and mighty Police Officers as if they're all citizen lovely and supporting protectors of the peace.

      PLEASE

      September 20, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • yeltzin

      he wouldn't have killed the officer if the officer had been blk. it was a hater crime

      September 20, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mephisto1

    Hey, if a cop's killed, somebody has to die, even if they didn't do it.

    September 20, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bill

    I have no idea personally whether Davis is guilty or not. Only the trial jury, any eye witnesses, and Davis have direct knowledge. I am against imposing the death penalty in any case, but especially if there is doubt involved. The fact that this execution may be killing the wrong man is enough to commute his death sentence.

    September 20, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mark from Canada

    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."

    I never understand this kind of reasoning – justice was not done. This is a distorted sense of justice. It is revenge that they are after and it is very sad that the American school system and culture is unable to make the distinction when it comes to executions. Keep these people in prison and maintain a vigilant search for answers in the case – that is true justice. To the family of the victim – I'm sorry for your loss, but this does not justify your thirst for revenge. Very sad indeed.

    September 20, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark Johnson

      Yes, we should get rid of the death penalty but I am not against execution. It simply is too costly and takes too long to execute someone, and rightfully so. We would be better off and it would cost less and be far more humane as to never execute an innocent man by mistake! No I believe some of these people deserve death but I am not their judge only God can do that, people are fallible...life with NO PAROLE is the only option for an enlightened society. Leave executions and absolutes to the Muslims!

      September 20, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • justice

      Yeah, you're right... if justice was truely done, the cop would have blown Troy Davis' head off instead of Davis murdering the cop.

      September 20, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mo Hamhead

      You're suggesting a 'vigilante search for answers in the case' hasn't been going on for 20+ years? That's your argument? That there have been no lawyers, judges, jurors, advocates and others involved in searching for answers?

      September 20, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Overbear

      Why is everyone upset? He was found guilty, execute him and move on. Better one inocent man be put to death, than 10 guilty men go free!!! Becides its not like we have a lack of people on the earth, one less will not make a dent in the population.

      September 20, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Linton Dawson

      This mentality is why i'm moving form the shthole called the USA.....biggest radcist and biggoted country on Earth – filled with pigs and jackwagons. and they all call themselves followers of Christ......in actuallity, the so-called USA christians today would crucify Christ if he appeared today – they'd call him soft on crime, starting class warfare by taxing the rich and for being weak when he says to turn the other cheek. then they go to church on Sunday and think they're good to go for another week of judging others, being hypocrites and demeaning the poor.

      September 20, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      "Better one inocent man be put to death, than 10 guilty men go free!!! Becides its not like we have a lack of people on the earth, one less will not make a dent in the population."

      LOL. Satire is satirical.

      September 20, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mo Hamhead

      *should be 'vigilant search'... LOL...

      September 20, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. FG

    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.

    He's a thug regardless .... Gas him...

    September 20, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. exodus

    Everyone is talking about this because it's a death sentence and it's about to come to an end. What if it were a life sentence and this person had to rot in prison for the rest of his life? Is that better or something? If he's so innocent why arent people asking what he's doing in prison in the first place? Solve that problem and we wont have to worry about killing innocent people because they got the death penalty.

    September 20, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. droptheleash

    Wait, wait, wait......I thought government was inefficient, corrupt, and never to be trusted. Oh, those rules go out the window when it comes to killing citizens. Now I understand.

    September 20, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Exactly. Government is the enemy and must be severely limited or even eliminated.

      Except of course when it comes to the police and the military. Those guys do nothing wrong. Give them a raise–take the money from those lazy unionized school teachers!

      September 20, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
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