Troy Davis put to death
September 21st, 2011
11:50 PM ET

Troy Davis put to death

Georgia inmate Troy Davis was executed Wednesday night for the 1989 murder of Mark MacPhail, an off-duty Savannah police officer.

Davis died at 11:08 p.m. ET, according to a prison official. The execution was about four hours later than initially scheduled, because prison officials waited for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Davis' request for a stay.

After 10 p.m. ET, the Supreme Court, in a brief order, rejected Davis' request. His supporters had sought to prevent the execution, saying seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted or contradicted their testimony.

Below are the developments as they happened. Read the full story here.

[Updated at 11:50 p.m.] Jon Lewis of WSB radio, one of the execution witnesses, gave this account of the minutes before Davis' death:

After the warden read the execution order and asked whether Davis had anything to say, Davis - strapped to a gurney - lifted his head up and looked at the witness area's first row, which was where MacPhail's relatives and friends sat.

“(Davis) made a statement in which he said ... 'Despite the situation you're in, (I) was not the one who did it.' He said he was not personally responsible for what happened that night, that he did not have a gun. He said to the family that he was sorry for their loss, but also said that he did not take their son, father, brother.

"He said to them to dig deeper into this case, to find out the truth. He asked his family and friends to keep praying, to keep working, to keep the faith. And then he said to the prison staff, the ones he said 'are going to take my life,' ... ‘May God have mercy on your souls,’ and his last words to them (were), 'May God bless your souls.'"

Another witness, reporter Rhonda Cook of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper, also gave quotes from Davis. According to her, Davis said: "The incident that night was not my fault. I did not have gun."

"And that’s when he told his friends to continue the fight and 'look deeper into this case so you can really find the truth,'" Cook said.

Davis also said, according to Cook: "For those about to take my life, may God have mercy on your souls, may God bless your souls."

Davis said to the MacPhail family, according to Cook: "I did not personally kill your son, father and brother. I am innocent."

Hours earlier, Davis declined what the prison offered him as a final meal, Cook said.

[Updated at 11:12 p.m.] Davis has been executed, a prison representative has said. The time of death was 11:08 p.m. ET.

[Updated at 10:55 p.m.] Davis' execution is expected to begin between 11:05 to 11:10 p.m. ET, the Georgia Department of Corrections says.

[Updated at 10:36 p.m.] People who'd been protesting for hours across the street from the prison where Davis will be executed are chanting, "We are Troy Davis," CNN's David Mattingly reported.

[Updated at 10:21 p.m.] The U.S. Supreme Court has denied Davis' motion for a stay of execution.

Word of the Supreme Court's decision comes more than three hours after Davis was scheduled to be executed, and more than four hours after Davis' attorneys had filed the motion.

With the ruling, Georgia is expected to proceed with Davis' execution.

[Updated at 10:07 p.m.] The daylong gathering across the street from the prison by Davis' supporters has turned into a candlelight vigil, CNN's Gustavo Valdes reports. Hundreds still are waiting for a resolution. Some are praying, and some others are singing.

[Updated at 9:41 p.m.] The Rev. Raphael Warnock said he was standing with Davis' relatives on the grounds of the prison when they heard the execution wouldn't happen at the scheduled time.

"I was standing with the family at about 7 p.m. By that time, of course, naturally, we were expecting the worst," Warnock, a pastor to Davis' family, told CNN's Piers Morgan. "Suddenly we began to hear cheers from the crowd across the way, and the word came that the execution had been delayed.

"Certainly we're glad that Troy Davis is still alive, but we are still witnessing, in my estimation, a civil right violation and a human rights violation in the worst way unfold before our very eyes. This is Troy Davis’ fourth execution date. I’m glad that he’s alive, but that in and of itself is cruel and unusual punishment. America can do much better than this."

Asked if Davis had had what would have been offered as a last meal, Warnock indicated that Davis might have skipped it.

“I do know that on the last time he received an execution warrant, he refused his last meal," Warnock said. "I spoke earlier tonight with his nephew ... and he said his uncle would refuse his last meal again today. He has continued to insist that this is not his last meal. I must say to you that he evinces a faith that is just amazing, even to me as his pastor."

[Updated at 9:05 p.m.] The number of police officers standing outside the Georgia prison housing Davis has risen to more than 100, CNN's David Mattingly reported. The officers are watching protesters, who've been across the street for hours.

The crowd has been orderly, Mattingly said. While it had been chanting for much of the day, they're "probably as quiet as I’ve heard them all night," Mattingly reported.

[Updated at 8:55 p.m.] Dozens of people have gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., in support of Davis, footage from CNN affiliate WJLA shows.

Still no ruling from the court on Davis' request for a stay of execution.

[Updated at 8:39 p.m.] This video report from CNN's David Mattingly, made about 40 minutes ago, shows the people who've been protesting across the street from the prison where Davis is being held, and the police officers in riot gear who are in front of the prison, watching the protesters.

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[Updated at 8:19 p.m.] The mother of the police officer that Davis was convicted of killing told CNN's Anderson Cooper that she is "absolutely devastated" that the execution has yet to happen.

“I’m absolutely devastated because I want it over with. ... They’ve been through the courts four times there in Georgia. They’ve been to the Supreme Court three times," Anneliese MacPhail said in an interview from her home, referring to previous delays. "This delay, again, is very upsetting and I think very unfair to us."

"I'd like to close this book," she said. "We feel (Davis is) guilty. The evidence and everything that we have seen - that I have seen , because I’ve been to all the trials - he is guilty, and I believe in that. And so does the rest of my family.”

[cnn-video url=""%5D

[Updated at 8:10 p.m.] The time that the U.S. Supreme Court is taking to rule on Davis' motion for a stay of execution is unusual, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said. "Usually, it’s handled pretty promptly," Toobin said.

Davis' lawyers filed the motion at about 6 p.m., an hour before Davis' scheduled execution. The state attorney general's office filed a response shortly afterward.

The two hours that the court has had the motion is "not a long time, but it's long enough for (the nine justices) to respond and say, 'Go ahead,'" Toobin said. "So it does suggest that they’re taking this seriously, and there may be some disagreement.”

[Updated at 7:43 p.m.] After a brief moment of jubilation upon hearing that the execution hasn't yet happened, Davis' supporters - who have gathered outside the grounds of the prison where he is being held - are regrouping and talking about what might be next, CNN's Emma Lacey-Bordeaux reports. "Troy Davis can never die" is a common theme.

The state of Georgia isn't proceeding with the execution until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on Davis' request for a stay. Davis' attorneys filed the request about an hour before Davis' scheduled 7 p.m. execution.

Davis' supporters, who had been chanting, are now letting out cheers as drivers pass and honk their horns. Otherwise, the mood is tense as they wait for a development, Lacey-Bordeaux reports.

[Updated at 7:26 p.m.] The state of Georgia hasn't yet proceeded with the execution of Troy Davis, because it is waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on his request for a stay, CNN's Bill Mears reports.

Davis had been scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m. ET. His attorneys filed a motion asking the Supreme Court for a stay about an hour before the scheduled execution time.

[Updated at 7:06 p.m.] Inside the grounds of the prison where Davis is scheduled to be executed, about 100 people, including Davis' sister, have formed a tight circle and are praying and singing, CNN's Gustavo Valdes reports.

[Updated at 6:32 p.m.] Davis' attorneys have filed a motion with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking for a stay of execution, the court has said. No decision yet.

[Updated at 6:28 p.m.] Earlier, this blog mentioned a protest outside the White House against Troy Davis' scheduled execution. Here is video of the protest:

[cnn-video url=""%5D

[Updated at 6:20 p.m.] CNN's David Mattingly notes that according to the state Department of Corrections' schedule, Davis would have been offered a mild sedative, to calm his nerves, at 6 p.m.

[Updated at 5:58 p.m.] Davis' supporters outside the Jackson, Georgia, prison where he is to be executed are growing louder, CNN's David Mattingly reports. Frequent chants include: "Death Row? Hell No!" and "Free Troy Davis."

[Updated at 5:54 p.m.] CNN's David Mattingly notes that Davis, who had been scheduled for execution three previous times, "has never been as close to dying as he is at this hour." A previous scheduled execution was called off more than two hours before it was to happen; this time, Davis is a little more than an hour from the scheduled time.

"He has already said goodbye to friends and family visiting today," Mattingly writes. "He's been served his last meal. Everyone is waiting to see if a last-minute appeal now working it's way up the legal system might somehow stop or delay Troy Davis' pending appointment with lethal injection."

[Updated at 5:41 p.m.] The Georgia Supreme Court says it has unanimously denied a stay of execution for Troy Davis.

The court also denied his request for another appeal to be heard.

His attorneys will now ask the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the execution - Davis' last hope, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said.

"The United States Supreme Court has a procedure in place. They know when executions are coming; they are expecting an application, so I expect this will be acted on fairly quickly. ... It’s unlikely that a stay will be granted, but that possibility exists, and that’s Troy Davis’ only hope," Toobin said.

[Updated at 4:33 p.m.] With one eye on the clock, celebrity supporters of Troy Davis are using their platforms to continue to spread the word about the Georgia inmate.

[Updated at 4:31 p.m.] A Butts County Superior Court judge has declined to halt the execution of Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis, scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Davis’ attorney Brian Kammer tells CNN the appeal is now being brought before the Georgia Supreme Court.

[Updated at 4:14 p.m.] Davis saw 25 visitors Wednesday during the six-hour window (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) he was allowed to receive them before his scheduled 7 p.m. execution, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.

The visitors included relatives, friends, clergy and an attorney.

[Updated at 3:06 p.m.] A look at Davis' schedule today at the Jackson, Georgia, prison where he is scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m., from CNN's John Murgatroyd:

9 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Visitation with family, friends, clergy and/or attorneys.

3 p.m.: Will undergo a physical.

4 p.m.: Last meal offered.

5 p.m.: Opportunity to record final statement.

6 p.m.: An optional sedative will be offered.

[Updated at 3:02 p.m.]  About 100 people have gathered outside the White House in Washington, D.C., protesting Davis' scheduled execution in Georgia. The crowd consists mostly of students from Washington's Howard University, CNN's Lesa Jansen and Bob Kovach report.

One of the protesters, Howard graduate student Tamatha Scott, said in a CNN iReport video that the students marched from Howard to the White House, responding to student leaders' call to protest on Twitter.

“I started seeing the tweets about it late last night. It has been a very peaceful protest,” Scott said.

CNN's Lesa Jansen took this photo of the protest:

[Updated at 2:38 p.m.] An example of the high-profile support that Davis has received: Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, New Jersey, posted the following to his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon:

"The State should not be executing Troy Davis. . . if there is even a chance that he is innocent, why execute?"

Davis has gained international support. Public figures including Pope Benedict XVI, Desmond Tutu and former U.S. 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. On Wednesday, the French Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it "deeply regrets" the parole board's decision.

[Updated at 2:32 p.m.] Outside the Jackson, Georgia, prison where Davis is to be executed at 7 p.m., many of the speakers have struck hopeful notes, and some say they hope to change the system for the future, CNN's Emma Lacey-Bordeaux reports.

Many are holding hand-lettered signs, with messages such as, "Spare Troy Davis." Some have produced signs showing Davis' picture and the message, "NAACP says too much doubt."

One of the signs carried outside the Jackson prison refers to the NAACP's stance.

[Updated at 1:34 p.m.] Dozens of people have already gathered at the prison in Jackson, Georgia, where Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET, CNN's Gustavo Valdes reported.

People gather Wednesday outside the prison in Jackson, Georgia, where Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed.

The Rev. Al Sharpton is among those at the site.

The group is praying and holding hands, Valdes reported.

[Updated at 1:28 a.m. ET]  The Georgia Department of Corrections told CNN it has denied a request by Troy Davis' lawyers to conduct a polygraph test.

[Updated at 10:16 a.m. ET] The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has declined to reconsider its decision denying clemency to Troy Davis.

Supporters of Davis have been hoping that some last-ditch efforts might help save him from being executed on Wednesday night. Earlier Wednesday, his team filed an appeal asking to stay his execution.

[Posted at 9:13 a.m. ET] Attorneys for Troy Davis, facing execution in Georgia at 7 p.m. Wednesday, have filed a request to stay his execution in Butts County Superior Court.

Davis is scheduled to die by lethal injection Wednesday night in Jackson, Georgia, for the 1989 shooting death of off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail.

The parole board declined to grant Davis clemency Tuesday following a hearing Monday in which it heard testimony calling into question physical evidence and witness statements that a Chatham County jury relied on in convicting Davis in 1991. In Georgia, only the board - not the governor - has the right to grant clemency.

Since Davis' conviction, seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted or contradicted their testimony. Davis' supporters say the original witnesses were fearful of police and spoke under duress.

Other witnesses also have since come forward with accounts that call Davis' conviction into question, according to his supporters.

soundoff (5,817 Responses)
  1. Just my opinion

    I am a Christian, I live in Alabama, I am white, and I oppose the death penalty. And I am not democrat, if you wonder. The US, as a “Christian nation”, should reject the killing of a human being by state’s of federal’s authorities. On religious grounds, Christ came to save, not to condemn. And just to cite an example, he did not allow the stoning to death of the adulterous woman, which was perfectly acceptable at his time. From just a human perspective, society should refrain from irretrievable means (i.e., taking someone’s life) if there is minimal doubt about an inmate’s guilt (which appears to have been the case here). So for the records: not all Christians in the deep south are in favor of the death penalty. For heinous crimes, I support life in prison without parole.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
    • GJN123

      we are not a "christian nation"

      September 22, 2011 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
    • The Difference

      The BIG difference is that stoning did not take place simply because Mary Magdalene was not a MURDERER. End of story.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Just my opinion

      To "The difference". I think you are wrong. In those days, what the adulterous woman did fully deserved capital punishment. Check your facts, please. And by the way: nowadays, in most civilized, "western" countries, the death penalty does not longer exist. It would be nice to know why they moved away from it. Because they might be right, and we, well... not.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  2. Murka justice system is a joke

    Condolences to Mr. Davis' loved ones. Your relative had been locked up for 20 years, waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel. Sadly his nation let him down. Now he is gone, in the physical but he is in a better place now.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jfra

    I have no idea whether or not Mr. Davis was guilty or not, there is reasonable doubt. I am glad that I live in a country that does not have the death penalty. Here are some of the countries who do allow the death penatly: Iran, India, Pakistan, Afganistan, Bahrain, Syria, Egypt, Libya. Time to seriously think about this.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |


    September 22, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  5. USAcommunistcountry

    THIS IS JUSTICE .... THE SUPREME COURT KILLS A MAN BECAUSE THEY CONVICTED HIM OF KILLING ANOTHER .... the new Judical System ... GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY ... and this is a country that is always trying to rule another !!

    September 22, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. sam

    It is wrong to kill anybody if there is even a smallest doubt.
    This shows that America is not much different than Iranian regime.
    This also shows that being full of hate, rage and backward thinking does not need to be a fanatical person from Middle East, or wearing a turban. Just living in America will not make one more civilized.
    I am ashamed to be American today.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  7. sparknut

    I don't know how the family of the slain officer can take any comfort knowing that it is extremely likely an innocent man died tonight for the murder of their son. Two wrongs do not make a right. But I suppose they are deep into denial.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  8. klukas

    Poor Mark MacPhail – age 27. He died helping a poor homeless man who was being pistol whipped by Mr Davis. Ballistic evidence pointed to the fact he fired the weapon just an hour before and hit another man with same weapon. He also confessed to friends privately he was the shooter. The witnesses over the years have been harrassed relentlessly and some have caved and now have doubts. Mr Davis has had 22 years of chances with many levels of hearings/judges that have reviewed the evidence and tried to be fair. Too bad so many years have passed that we have forgotten the real victim(s) – Mark and his family.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick Findley

      Yes, it was wrong that Officer McPhail was murdered. However, what does this execution accomplish? Does it miraculously bring him back? No. All this does is satisfy the feelings of revenge. We must have justice everyone says. Ok, so Davis is dead. Do you feel better now? But wait, Officer McPhail is still dead. Need more revenge. How many more people have to die before these infantile feelings are satisfied? How is it that most of the civilized world has turned their back on the death penalty, yet we, who claim to be the most powerful nation on earth, cannot get past the idea of acting like kindergarteners when something like this happens? The answer is- we have no incentive to act civilized. Those states that have the death penalty are indicative of one truth- those citizens love death, love it, love it, love it. At least, those in favor of capital punishment. So, I ask those people, what are you going to do for an encore? What happens when you run out of people to kill to satisfy your bloodlust? You people who are in favor of the death penalty are no better than many third world heathens who have no clue what civilization means. And people wonder why we are on the decline. My condolences to not only Mr. Davis and his family, but Officer McPhail's family as well. In short, there are no winners here tonight people, only losers. We as a society in general have regressed to the point where the only justice we are happy with is at the end of a needle, rope, electrical current or bullet from a firing squad. It shows how far we have fallen as a people and how far we have yet to go. In the meantime, I pray that those of you who feel that the death penalty is appropriate, can justify yourselves before God when the time comes. Taking life, except in war or self defense is always wrong. Life is a gift from God, and it is not up to us as human beings to decide when it is appropriate to end. That would make all of you who are in favor of the death penalty more powerful than God???? Get over yourselves, or should I start ducking the lightning bolts you are going to send my way now????

      September 22, 2011 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jon from MN

    I am amazed at how many people commenting on here have basically no grasp of how American jurisprudence works. First, the burden of PROOF BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT rests with the prosecution. Now, what people don't seem to grasp is this notion of Davis having to prove innocence. Since Davis was appealing his conviction, he was an appellant and must show new and SUBSTANTIATED facts not previosuly considered by the courts, Board of Pardons, etc. The U.S. Supreme Court chose not to review the lower court's 172 pg. decision that concluded Davis had not met that burden because the basis for Davis' claims were already ruled upon previously (known in legal parlance as "res judicata").

    September 22, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  10. sam

    It is wrong to kill anybody if there is even a smallest doubt.
    This shows that America is not much different than Iranian regime.
    This also shows that being full of hate, rage and backward thinking does not need to be a fanatical person from Middle

    It is wrong to kill anybody if there is even a smallest doubt.
    This shows that America is not much different than Iranian regime.
    This also shows that being full of hate, rage and backward thinking does not need need to be a fanatical person from Middle East, or wearing a turban. Just living in America will not make one more civilized.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Francois

      Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend, Do it in the name of Heaven, You can justify it in the end, there won't be any trumpets blowing come the judgment day, on the bloody morning after, One Tin Soldier rides away....Don't shoot Policemen and don't hang around with people that do....However tragic the death penalty is one can not commit a horrible crime and then seek solace in the name of Heaven. Forgiveness does not equal Accountability.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |

    Screw a bunch of reasonable doubt, is the message from the US supreme court.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
    • jdazzle

      so what happened to reasonable doubt?

      September 22, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  12. Alex

    I never understood the death penalty... It's been proven that it isn't a deterrent to heinous crimes. It also doesn't punish the convicted. The convicted is dead...he feels nothing after he's dead. The State is only punishing the convicted's family and friends for the crimes they were convicted of.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
  13. Murka justice system is a joke

    The slain policeman's mother can rest peacefully now. Her son's killer is still out there while she smiles at an innocent man's death.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  14. synoptic12

    ISAIAH 59:15 +++
    Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil make himself a prey: and the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      I am displeased that you don't think for yourself and instead put blind faith in an often barbaric book written by uneducated humans 3000 years ago. I am pretty sure that your beloved Jesus would have been against state executions...seeing as that was the cause of his demise.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
  15. Larry

    B l a c k people. This is your fault.

    I hope that you see the importance of voting.

    States like these will execute innocent people especially minorities. They don't give a d a m n.

    You need to turn Georgia and Texas to blue states.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
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