published Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Condemned Georgia inmate Troy Davis has much support, little hope

Protesters gather outside the building where Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles members are holding a hearing for death row inmate Troy Davis, in Atlanta, on Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. Davis is scheduled to die Wednesday for the 1989 slaying of off-duty Savannah, Ga., police officer Mark MacPhail. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
Protesters gather outside the building where Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles members are holding a hearing for death row inmate Troy Davis, in Atlanta, on Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. Davis is scheduled to die Wednesday for the 1989 slaying of off-duty Savannah, Ga., police officer Mark MacPhail. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
Photo by Associated Press.
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Should Troy Davis be executed?

GREG BLUESTEIN, Associated Press

ATLANTA — Yet another appeal denied, Troy Davis was left with little to do Tuesday but wait to be executed for a murder he insists he did not commit.

He lost his most realistic chance to avoid lethal injection on Tuesday, when Georgia's pardons board rejected his appeal for clemency. As his scheduled 7 p.m. Wednesday execution neared, his backers resorted to far-fetched measures: urging prison workers to strike or call in sick, asking prosecutors to block the execution — even considering a desperate appeal for White House intervention.

He has gotten support from hundreds of thousands of people, including a former FBI director, former President Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict XVI, and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling gave him an unusual opportunity to prove his innocence last year. State and federal courts, however, repeatedly upheld his conviction for the 1989 killing of Mark MacPhail, an off-duty police officer who was working as a security guard in Savannah when he was shot dead rushing to help a homeless man who was being attacked.

Davis' attorneys say he was convicted based on flawed testimony that has been largely recanted by witnesses, but prosecutors and MacPhail's relatives say they have no doubt the right man is being punished.

"Justice was finally served for my father," said Mark MacPhail Jr., who was an infant when his father was gunned down. "The truth was finally heard."

As Davis' attorneys considered filing another appeal, his supporters planned vigils and rallies around the world. Nearly 1 million signed a petition seeking clemency, according to Amnesty International.

"Allowing a man to be sent to death under an enormous cloud of doubt about his guilt is an outrageous affront to justice," said Larry Cox, who heads Amnesty International USA.

Georgia initially planned to execute Davis in July 2007, but the pardons board granted him a stay less than 24 hours before he was to die. The U.S. Supreme Court stepped in a year later and halted the lethal injection just two hours before he was to be executed. And a federal appeals court halted another planned execution a few months later.

This time, state officials are confident this lethal injection will be carried out. Georgia's governor does not have the power to grant condemned inmates clemency. Davis supporters say Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm could block the execution, but he has said it's unlikely he will seek to intervene.

  • photo
    This undated file photo provided by the Georgia Department of Corrections shows death row inmate Troy Davis. Georgia corrections officials have scheduled a Sept. 21, 2011, execution date for Davis, for the 1989 murder of Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail. Davis, now 42, insists he's innocent and his lawyers, arguing they could prove it, have managed to spare him from three execution dates in the last four years. (AP Photo/Georgia Department of Corrections, File)

Spencer Lawton, the prosecutor who secured Davis' conviction in 1991, said he has no doubt he is guilty.

"What we have had is a manufactured appearance of doubt which has taken on the quality of legitimate doubt itself. And all of it is exquisitely unfair," Lawton said.

MacPhail was shot to death Aug. 19, 1989, after coming to the aid of Larry Young, a homeless man who was pistol-whipped in a Burger King parking lot. Prosecutors say Davis was with another man who was demanding that Young give him a beer when Davis pulled out a handgun and bashed Young with it. When MacPhail arrived to help, prosecutors say Davis had a smirk on his face when he shot the officer to death.

Witnesses placed Davis at the crime scene and identified him as the shooter. Shell casings were linked to a shooting hours earlier that Davis was convicted of. There was no other physical evidence. No blood or DNA tied Davis to the crime and the weapon was never located.

Davis' attorneys say seven of nine key witnesses who testified at his trial have disputed all or parts of their testimony.

Quiana Glover, who did not testify at the original trial, said one of the witnesses who did not recant told her he was the real shooter. That man, who was with Davis that night, could not be reached for comment on Monday and Tuesday, and did not answer his door this week when a reporter visited.

"Justice should be served, but it should be served to the right man," said Glover, who urged the pardons board to grant clemency Monday. "There's no evidence against this young man."

As advocacy groups highlighted the case, a growing number of dignitaries became involved. A host of conservative figures are among those who have advocated on his behalf, including former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, ex-Justice Department official Larry Thompson and one-time FBI Director William Sessions.

Their concerns helped prod the U.S. Supreme Court to grant Davis a hearing in Savannah to prove his innocence, a nearly unprecedented move. Two witnesses at the June 2010 hearing testified that they falsely incriminated Davis at his trial, and two others told the judge that the man with Davis that night later said he shot MacPhail.

Prosecutors, though, argued that Davis' lawyers were simply rehashing old testimony that had already been rejected by a jury. And they said no trial court could ever consider the hearsay from the other witnesses who blamed the other man for the crime.

U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. sided with prosecutors and rejected Davis' request for a new trial. He said that while "new evidence casts some additional, minimal doubt on his conviction, it is largely smoke and mirrors."

On Tuesday, Davis was spending his last quiet hours with friends, family and supporters, said Wende Gozan Brown, an Amnesty International staffer who visited him.

"He said he's in good spirits, he's prayerful and he's at peace. But he said he will not stop fighting until he's taken his last breath. And he said Georgia is about to snuff out the life of an innocent man," she said.

His supporters are exploring other options. State Sen. Vincent Fort called on all but a skeleton staff of prison workers to strike on Wednesday.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said it was considering asking President Barack Obama to intervene, a move that legal experts considered unlikely.

MacPhail's family, which urged the pardons board on Monday to reject Davis' clemency bid, said his execution will bring them peace.

"That's what we wanted, and that's what we got," said MacPhail's mother, Anneliese MacPhail. "We wanted to get it over with, and for him to get his punishment."

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rolando said...

There are no guilty men in prison...just ask one.

Twenty-two years to execute this convicted, scumbag killer and repeat felon. Twenty-two years of catering to this killer's every whim...except freedom and he is still whining about that last.

How much clemency did Davis give his victim? None. How much sympathy did he give him? None. How much empathy did he have with his victim? None. He had a smirk on his face when he pulled the trigger.

I say, shoot him full of drugs and throw his worthless carcase out with the rest of the garbage. Let the dogs eat it. That's still too good for him.

September 21, 2011 at 6:55 a.m.
BOOBOO99 said...

Most Death row inmates are guilty....And should be executed. He might not of killed noboby. But he probably wont be the first innocent person died by being executed.

September 21, 2011 at 9:16 a.m.
potcat said...

Both of you need to read "Innocent Man" by John Grisham, they most certainly are INNOCENT men on Death Row, and hear is one Mans Horrid Testament.Read it and weep Brother!!!!

September 21, 2011 at 10:33 a.m.
mglove28 said...

Booboo99 and rolando yall r sum sick ppl even when one kills who are we to judge look in the mirror before you judge someone typical though what is this world coming to may God have mercy on you guys soul along with Mr. Davis wether he is innocent or not

September 21, 2011 at 1:03 p.m.
Inri_Inri said...

So according to rolando and boo it's alright to commit murder by executing a potentially innocent man just because? Inri_Inri.........IT IS DONE.

September 21, 2011 at 2:26 p.m.
candicane23 said...

I'm not sure if I believe in the death sentence unless it is obvious they killed someone. Like the cop killer in chatt. Now that is an open and shut case. And the guy that just shot that young man and someone video taped it. Now that ones kinda obvious too. I'm just glad I wasnt on that jury because I dont know if I could have someone put to death because of what a few witnesses say. and no other evidence.

September 21, 2011 at 4:14 p.m.
rolema said...

It has went on long enought. {We live by the law of the land we DIE by the law of the land.......

September 21, 2011 at 4:26 p.m.

Rolando and BooBoo- I'm sure the politicians of this country will be glad to hear your swallowing every tidbit of questionable media your served. Way to not think for yourselves, or rather congratulations on your ignorance.

Should someone be put to death for taking a life? Perhaps, but only if no shadow of doubt exists. How can we ever hope to find fairness in a world where Money, popularity and political agendas decide right from wrong. We except the fact that innocent people suffer at the hands of our piss poor justice system. I suppose the opinion would be "10% are innocent but 90% are not, well thats better than 11% and 89%"

This is not the nation it could have been! Settling for less is doom!

September 21, 2011 at 4:32 p.m.
rolando said...

I worked for 40 years catching scumbag cop-killers like Davis, Illusion. I need no media kool-aid. Davis had all the appeals including the SCOTUS and they all agreed...execute him.

One hour fifteen minutes until he is roasting in that special circle of Hell reserved for cop-killers. Jamal whosis -- another convicted cop-killer on death row for forever -- will be joining him shortly with any luck.

September 21, 2011 at 6:14 p.m.
fedup350 said...

A jury found Troy Davis guilty. A death penalty case is taken very seriously in our court system. Millions of dollars and untold man-hours have been spent on the trial and appeals. His defense lawyers have thrown up a smokescreen but it was seen for what it was. The NAACP is protesting. Wow, what a surprise (sarcasm). There is one reason and one reason only that they are protesting on Troy Davis's behalf, his skin color. They would not be there id Troy Davis was white. His guilt or innocence does not matter to them one bit. Here is an idea…how about the NAACP come to Chattanooga and protest the 20 murders done by blacks on blacks? That wont happen, no publicity or pay off in that for them. Troy Davis killed a man in cold blood and sneered when he did it. Now the liberals and race baiters want him freed, wow, another surprise (sarcasm again). Troy Davis, it is time to pay the piper, the check is due.....

September 21, 2011 at 6:15 p.m.
rolando said...

And it isn't "no shadow of doubt", Illusion, it is "no reasonable doubt". The law decides right from wrong and we are, after all, still live under the rule of law.

Name one jurisprudence system in the world that is better, more fair, and more protective of evildoers than ours. Since when do we "except [sic] the fact that innocent people suffer at the hands of our...system"? The only innocent people who suffer are the victims of felons like Davis...and that unfortunately, we accept.

Maybe in your world convicted felons sentenced to death are innocent but not in mine. By the time it reaches the point Davis is at, innocence is not a factor.

Another half-hour or so and God will sort him out.

September 21, 2011 at 6:23 p.m.
adolphochs said...

Tick, tick, tick tick........................

September 21, 2011 at 6:40 p.m.
ginagirl43 said...

Well said, Fedup350. You said what I was thinking.

September 21, 2011 at 9:43 p.m.
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