by The Associated Press
Jackson, GA— Convicted cop killer
Troy Davis was executed by injection in Georgia at 11:08 EST after
the Supreme Court denied his stay. His last words were to prison
officials were: “May God have mercy on your souls. May God bless
The Supreme Court late Wednesday rejected an 11th-hour request to block
the execution of Troy Davis, who convinced hundreds of thousands of
people but not the justice system of his innocence in the murder of
an off-duty police officer.
The court did not comment on its order late Wednesday, four hours after receiving the
request. Davis’ execution had been set to begin at 7 p.m., but the
high court’s decision was not issued until after 10 p.m.
Though Davis’ attorneys say seven of nine key witnesses against him have
disputed all or parts of their testimony, state and federal judges
have repeatedly ruled against granting him a new trial. As the court
losses piled up Wednesday, his offer to take a polygraph test was
rejected and the pardons board refused to give him one more hearing.
Davis’ supporters staged vigils in the U.S. and Europe, declaring “I am Troy Davis”
on signs, T-shirts and the Internet. Some tried increasingly
frenzied measures, urging prison workers to stay home and even
posting a judge’s phone number online, hoping people will press
him to put a stop to the lethal injection. President Barack Obama
deflected calls for him to get involved.
The crowd outside the prison swelled to more than 500 as night fell and
a few dozen riot police stood watch. About 10 counterdemonstrators
also were there, showing support for the death penalty and the
family of Mark MacPhail, the man Davis was convicted of killing in
“He had all the chances in the world,” his mother, Anneliese MacPhail,
said of Davis in a telephone interview. “It has got to come to an
At a Paris rally, many of the roughly 150 demonstrators carried signs
emblazoned with Davis’ face. “Everyone who looks a little bit at
the case knows that there is too much doubt to execute him,”
Nicolas Krameyer of Amnesty International said at the protest.
As his last hours ticked away, an upbeat and prayerful Davis turned
down an offer for a special last meal as he met with friends, family
“Troy Davis has impacted the world,” his sister Martina Correia said at
a news conference. “They say, ‘I am Troy Davis,’ in languages
he can’t speak.”
Correia, who is battling breast cancer and using a wheelchair as she helps
coordinate rallies and other events, called on people to push for
change in the justice system. Then she said, “I’m going to stand
here for my brother,” and got up with help from people around her.
His attorney Stephen Marsh said Davis would have spent part of Wednesday
taking a polygraph test if pardons officials had taken his offer
“He doesn’t want to spend three hours away from his family on what
could be the last day of his life if it won’t make any
difference,” Marsh said.
Amnesty International says nearly 1 million people have signed a petition on
Davis’ behalf. His supporters include former President Jimmy
Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, a former FBI director, the NAACP, several
conservative figures and many celebrities, including hip-hop star
Sean “P. Diddy” Combs.
“I’m trying to bring the word to the young people: There is too much
doubt,” rapper Big Boi, of the Atlanta-based group Outkast, said
at a church near the prison.
The U.S. Supreme Court gave Davis an unusual opportunity to prove his
innocence in a lower court last year, though the high court itself
did not hear the merits of the case.
He was convicted in 1991 of killing MacPhail, who was working as a security guard at the
time. MacPhail rushed to the aid of a homeless man who prosecutors
said Davis was bashing with a handgun after asking him for a beer.
Prosecutors said Davis had a smirk on his face as he shot the
officer to death in a Burger King parking lot in Savannah.
No gun was ever found, but prosecutors say shell casings were linked to
an earlier shooting for which Davis was convicted.
Witnesses placed Davis at the crime scene and identified him as the shooter,
but several of them have recanted their accounts and some jurors
have said they’ve changed their minds about his guilt. Others have
claimed a man who was with Davis that night has told people he
actually shot the officer.
“Such incredibly flawed eyewitness testimony should never be the basis for
an execution,” Marsh said. “To execute someone under these
circumstances would be unconscionable.”
State and federal courts, however, have repeatedly upheld Davis’
conviction. One federal judge dismissed the evidence advanced by
Davis’ lawyers as “largely smoke and mirrors.”
“He has had ample time to prove his innocence,” said MacPhail’s
widow, Joan MacPhail-Harris. “And he is not innocent.”
The latest motion filed by Davis’ attorneys in Butts County Court disputed testimony
from the expert who linked the shell casings to the earlier shooting
involving Davis, and challenged testimony from two witnesses.
Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson and the Georgia Supreme Court
rejected the appeal, and prosecutors said the filing was just a
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which
has helped lead the charge to stop the execution, said it was
considering asking President Barack Obama to intervene.
Obama cannot grant Davis clemency for a state conviction. Richard Dieter,
executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said he
could halt the execution by asking for an investigation into a
federal issue if one exists.
Press Secretary Jay Carney issued a statement saying that although Obama
“has worked to ensure accuracy and fairness in the criminal
justice system,” it was not appropriate for him “to weigh in on
specific cases like this one, which is a state prosecution.”
Dozens of protesters outside the White House called on the president to step
in, and about 12 were arrested for disobeying police orders.
“The fact that the White House hasn’t addressed this issue is
completely disrespectful,” college student Talibah Arnett said.
Davis was not the only U.S. inmate scheduled to die Wednesday evening. In Texas, white
supremacist gang member Lawrence Russell Brewer was put to death for
the 1998 dragging death of a black man, James Byrd Jr., one of the
most notorious hate crime murders in recent U.S. history.
Davis’ best chance may have come last year, in a hearing ordered by the
U.S. Supreme Court. It was the first time in 50 years that justices
had considered a request to grant a new trial for a death row
The high court set a tough standard for Davis to exonerate himself,
ruling that his attorneys must “clearly establish” Davis’
innocence – a higher bar to meet than prosecutors having to prove
guilt. After the hearing judge ruled in prosecutors’ favor, the
justices didn’t take up the case.
The planned execution has drawn widespread criticism in Europe, where
politicians and activists made last-minute pleas for a stay.
Spencer Lawton, the district attorney who secured Davis’ conviction in
1991, said he was embarrassed for the judicial system – not because
of the execution, but because it has taken so long to carry out.
“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,”
said Lawton, who retired as Chatham County’s head prosecutor in
2008. “The good news is we live in a civilized society where
questions like this are decided based on fact in open and
transparent courts of law, and not on street corners.