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.

[cnn-video url=""%5D

[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. Brian Hartman

    I personally can't stand these opinion pieces.

    I call this an opinion piece because not even the slightest bit of balance was given to the article. We're supposed to believe that time after time, mercy has been denied this man simply because those judging him are mean. *Why* clemency was denied, or appeals were denied, or the recantation or contradictory testimony wasn't persuasive, is never given. We're supposed to just take it on faith that this guy is innocent, and the whole world is against him.

    Is that it, CNN?

    September 21, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • wildbynature

      And where is your proof that he isn't, Brian?

      September 21, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • JohnO

      wild – he was convicted by a jury of his peers. So the burden of proof now shifts to him and his supports. To date they have not met that burden.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian Hartman


      He was convicted. His appeals were repeatedly denied. This has been going on for over 20 years. In all that time, the defense hasn't given sufficient reason (according to every judicial body that's heard from them) reason to overturn the verdict.

      The only recourse I can see for the defense is saying that the death penalty is immoral. That argument may win out someday, but that was the penalty affixed for *this* crime and *this* defendant.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ken

    A grand jury thought there was enough evidence to take the case to trial. A jury of his peers thought their was enough evidence to convict him and sentence him to death. Because this is a capital murder case, he automatically received another trial and a second jury also found him guilty. The evidence in this case has been reviewed by a special state board who said he is guilty. If you are against the death penalty, then at least pick a better case to defend your position. Davis is guilty and now must pay for his crime.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  3. Dribble

    What about the white dude that was just executed in TX, Libra? Or does his skin color not matter, there? And TX is in the south, also. Invalid argument, but thanks for keeping score on black crime only.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Jomm

      NO. the guy in Texas was PROVEN he dragged and killed a man; however, Tx just halted an execution of another white guy today.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  4. Dribble

    THANK YOU, Ken!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  5. Whome

    How many chances does this guy get, how many chances did his victim get?

    September 21, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  6. carlie

    This is so sick! Why are we fighting for freedom & democracy in other countries & we have things like this going on here in the US! When I hear things like this it only reminds me that as a country we've got a war on terror to fight within our own boarders. We need to fight homelessness, poverty, education (or the lack there of) unemployment, hunger, and dare I say equality!!!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • rey


      September 21, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  7. morbus gravis

    everyone hearing the evidence keeps confirming hes guilty, but all the yahoos out there who are not experts, read an anti death penalty article that states troy is innocent and they know that is the truth. that has to be the truth, it cant be what the 29 judges and the supreme courts says or even a jury. it has to be what anti death penalty article says that is the truth

    September 21, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • d

      Seems to me all the evidence they had was, "yeah, I saw that guy do it." They never had physical evidence, just witness statements, which are notoriously unreliable, and most were recanted. The only one that wasn't recanted was from another guy at the SCENE OF THE CRIME, who may have committed the murder himself.

      I'm not anti-death penalty. I'm anti-death penalty unless there is indisputable proof that the person is guilty. Hearsay doesn't count as indisputable proof.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  8. skixtreme

    What is wrong with this country and the State of Gerogia. I'm all for the death penalty IF a person has been found guilty based on strong evidence and testimony. This case had neither!!! We need to look at why the judges before this "stayed" his execution. They must have found something that supported not putting him to death at those times.

    At the end of the day it's just us " White folk " putting to death another Black man... Smells like old fashion, southern racism to me... Oh wait it makes sense now... I realize now why people have dubbed the south the dumbest part of the USA.. so go fly your Confederate Flag, beat your wife and try and count to five.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • bob

      The US is one of the few remaining "civilized" countries in the world that still deludes itself that the death penalty is a reasonable response to capital murder or other crimes. There is no evidence to support that it is a deterrent. Moreover, the evidence clearly demonstrates that it is applied unevenly and whether you get it or not depends on income, race, and jurisdiction.

      The US has self appointed itself to be the guardian of human rights across the globe while ignoring its own human rights violations -to name but a few: torture of prisoners, executions without due process (i.e. foreign nationals) etc.

      Ever wonder why the US has such a terrible reputation across the world? When I travel, I proudly and somewhat defensively display my Canadian flag pin lest I be mistaken for an American.

      Shame on the state of Georgia. Shame on the US. Time to come out of the middle ages.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      just wondering if you'd have your panties in a wad if this man was white...

      September 21, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  9. jg181837

    the justice system in this country is so far from perfect and economically prejudice that the death penalty should be outlawed it is also more exspensive to the tax payers to have someone on deathrow rather than life in prison its not about whether you are guilty or not it is always going to be about your economic status plus had a woman done this she probably would not have gotten the death penalty

    September 21, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. TL the alligator

    7 recanted and 2 DID NOT....2 is enough to uphold this animals fate......i say first shoot HIM in the face and THEN insert the needle.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • d

      The other day, I saw you murder somebody on the street. Should you be put to death now?

      September 21, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      One of those two was Sylvester Coles, who was the one who actually shot MacPhail in the face.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  11. Karina

    How the hell does Casey Anthony walk out two weeks after her trial while this guy, who is most likely innocent, spent the last 20 years in jail, only to be executed? How did our "justice" system come to this?!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • rey

      hes a black man thats why.. georgia gov still lives in the stone age where to them you still have black slaves although now they call it housekeeping and cooks.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Karina

      Unfortunately you're probably right... this is disgusting.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • rey

      unfortunately I have family in that state and that is how most people there are..

      September 21, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  12. rey

    unfortunately it will be like alot of the passed people who were given the death penalty a few weeks after they were dead the courts and the gov said opps we were wrong but its to late now... and has anyone ever noticed that it is the black people on death row who always get the opps response after the fact. the gov and the courts are racist if this man is guilty because of whitnessess in that are now admitting they lied in their statements in court then casey anthony is a saint. Im white and I think that just cause he is black does not make him a killer.. being harrassed by cops will make anyone admit to things.. alot of cops especially ones who are racist will push and reword things in many different ways till they get the answer they want. I say put the sentance on hold and reopen the evidence and all the files now and go over it cause they will do it anyway after he is dead then say opps. the gov is corrupt and stupid.. problem is you cant fix stupid.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  13. Dribble

    Pretty sure the parole board may have been swayed to change their decision if the family of the man he executed came forward and said "hey, you have the wrong guy". Pretty sure that didn't happen.
    He was convicted. Spike him.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  14. morbus gravis

    he confessed to shooting a man in the face and trying to kill this man. he confessed to it. the same shell caseings were at the seen of the cop murder from his gun, the cops blood was on troys shorts, but a lib nut is so stupid they will say this proves hes innocent

    September 21, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Davis made no such confession.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • d

      Er, no? They found exactly none of those things. If they had, there wouldn't be an issue. But of course, you don't know how to read, so you jumped to conclusions.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  15. dutspup

    At least they aren't holding him down on the ground and shooting him in the face like he did the cop.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Somebody held the cop down on the ground while Coles shot him in the face?

      September 21, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
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