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. kazz


    September 20, 2011 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. HFXE1

    Well even though many killers deserve to be shot in the face, they still deserve a fair trial.In Troy Davis's case he has alot of support from the general public which doesn't really mean much in the eyes of the judge handing down the verdict hes looking at the cold hard facts.Innocent men have died in the past for crimes they haven't committed, whether hes innocent I dont know but he still deserves a fair trial especially if the witnesses cant get their crap straight.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  3. me

    The blood of Mr Davis is going to be on the state of Georgia and on the hands of those responsible for his killing. They can't blame anybody but themselves once God brings down His righteous right hand on them.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • nonya


      September 20, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  4. Junior

    Somebody help me out. So does Troy only deny shooting the officer and not the 2 other guys? Or does he deny all 3 incidents all together? It's kind of hard to decipher this from reading this article.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Jenniffer

      Do some deeper research. There were two people shot, not three. He did not plead guilty to anything.

      Coles admitted arguing with Young but stated that Davis had hit him with a pistol.[21] On cross-examination, Coles admitted that he also had a .38 pistol, but stated that he had given it to another man earlier that night.[18] A neighbor of the Davis family, Jeffrey Sapp, testified that soon after the murder Davis had confessed to him.[21] Kevin McQueen, a former fellow prisoner, testified that Davis had confessed to shooting MacPhail as he feared that the officer would connect him to the shooting of Cooper earlier in the evening.[22] Cooper testified that he was inebriated when shot and said that Davis "don't know me well enough to shoot me".[20] A friend of Cooper's, Benjamin Gordon, stated that the man who shot Cooper was wearing a white T-shirt, though on cross-examination he admitted he did not know Davis and had not seen the person who shot Cooper.[20] Darrell Collins, who had made an August 1989 police statement that he had seen Davis shoot at people in a car in Cloverdale and approaching MacPhail, recanted his statement under cross-examination by the defense, saying that he made the statement after threats by police with prison if he did not cooperate. He said in court that he had not seen Davis in possession of a gun or fire one.[20] No murder weapon – neither the gun owned by Cole nor that said to be owned by Davis – was recovered.[21] A ballistics expert testified that the .38 caliber bullet that killed MacPhail could have been fired from the same gun that wounded Cooper at the pool party, though he admitted doubt about this. However, he stated he was confident that .38 casings found in Cloverdale matched one allegedly later found by a homeless man near the scene of MacPhail's shooting.[23]

      For the defense, Davis' mother testified that Davis was at their Cloverdale home on August 19, 1989, until he left for Atlanta with his sister at about 9 pm[24] Davis denied shooting MacPhail, saying he had observed Coles striking Young after a quarrel about beer, but that he had fled before any shots were fired and did not know who had shot the officer. He also denied shooting Cooper.[24][25]

      September 20, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Frank Castle


    September 20, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      I love it, needle in a haystack fantastic!

      September 20, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Dobro

      Another loving christian.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  6. John

    He Killed a Cop, he deserves to DIE. I am sorry but the proof is there. 20 years after the fact and he is finally being put to death, it takes to long. I am a strong supporter of the death penalty. If you can willing take a life then you can willing forfeit your's. I hope Davis realizes he has less to 36 hours to live.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • CSMinDC

      You're right. A cop is a superhuman, while the rest of us are 1/2 human.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Dobro

      Doesn't sound to me as if you are sorry like you say.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Cops put there life on the line every single day to keep us safe. And I don't even know any cops I just feel that they willingly put their life's on the line and then this criminal goes and kills him that criminal deserves to DIE.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. Ed Sr

    Sounds like died so they have to have TWO die....................senseless both ways.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • CSMinDC

      Not for the guilty one.

      I wish everyone who disagrees with capital punishment and too long jail sentences were required to take in the ones they fight for. We'll see how many continue to defend the guilty.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  8. roggabloggin

    Kill a cop, go on death row. Kill a child, you do seven years with good behavior.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Taymillz

      Yes your right , but i dont think he should die thats just a easy way out he should suffer . But killing is not an option to anyone . But they had no evidence he did it so he should get relese. #just like that

      September 20, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • pastafaria

      Kill 100,000+ Iraqi civilians, get re-elected to a second term.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • mike

      There is a reason for that though. I know it seems ridiculous.. but if you could kill a police officer with and get the same sentence as any other murder, criminals would be a lot less hesitant to harm police. This in turn would make every officers job more difficult, and dangerous. With the huge penalty for taking an officers life, it makes anyone think twice before doing anything to harm one, which makes them more effective, safe, and able to perform their duties to the best of their ability.

      There are a ton of TERRIBLE police officers out there, but the ones that are good, and there are a lot of them, deserve this peace of mind.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Bryant

      Really, you're going to go down that route?! Whatever happened to an open mind?

      September 20, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Searled

      Kill a two year old little girl, who is also your daughter, walk away, go to Mexico and begin your "Bella Vita". . . THAT'S injustice!

      September 20, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • J.T.M.

      Not when I was on the jury. That man killed his wife and child and I can garantee you that he will not do that again.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whatever....

      unless your Anthony, then you kill your child and serve nothing

      September 20, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • just me

      true, and a cop is a person l9ike anyone else..why be put non death row for THAT?

      September 22, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  9. RV1982

    It is a demonstrated, scientific fact that the brain changes its memory of an observation or incident every time the details are recalled and then stored again in the brain as essentially as new, but slightly different, memory. As time progresses (in this case 22 years) it should be expected that " of the nine witnesses against him have recanted or contradicted their testimony." With regard to physical evidence, I have to assume the jury took that into consideration. If it is, in fact, questionable, it is the defense attornies duty to establish reasonable doubt...obviously he did not. Perhaps he was incompetent? If so, Amnesty International has not suggested it.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Jenniffer

      These people recanted years ago. Just because its in the news right now doesn't mean everything just popped up suddenly. It takes years to make anything happen in our "justice system".

      September 20, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Fakechristians

    "Christian hypocracy at it's best."

    September 20, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
    • CSMinDC

      You'll have to expand on this.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  11. Eiren

    What a shame that in a country as great as America, our founding principles have been eroded to such a tremendous extent that we believe it's just putting a man to death although his conviction can not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

    We have corruption throughout our judicial and enforcement systems, police who are afraid to be video taped as they can't get away with whatever they want, and people like cruel honesty who will not realise the dark road we're going down until they're the one in the hot seat.

    Putting this man to death without proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and certainly without any ACTUAL proof whatsoever from the judicial records, is murder. The only ones who are guilty in this instance are those pressing forward with this execution instead of hitting pause and making sure we do not execute a man who may be innocent.

    I thought in America we did not do this unless they were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and there seem t be a lot of doubts here...

    September 20, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  12. downwithneonazies

    lemmeguess, the board members are mostly either christian or jewish. another proof the two religions are the source of all evil.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  13. Yup

    Soryy but the puppy dog picture will not work for me....The bottom line is if he was found guilty as a killer then say good night.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  14. RedSea

    No evidence , lying witnesses, and they go ahead and kill him anyway. The cop's family is just plain stupid.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  15. greg

    You know what this is .........this is an injustice, this is about polotics and some one not wanting to admit that they are wrong, even if there is a shadow of a doubt this man should be taken off death row. I hope the people on this board know they they will go to hell for their sinful and unforgiving ways. When they sit in front of god asking for forgiveness they will be denied !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 20, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • lamborghini-Dallas

      Hope you dont go to hell because of your spelling.....................

      September 20, 2011 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
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