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Ga. man executed late Wednesday despite worldwide pleas of his innocence

Published: Thu, September 22, 2011 @ 12:27 a.m.

McClatchy Newspapers


One of the most controversial death penalty cases in Georgia’s history ended Wednesday night as the state executed Troy Anthony Davis, a convicted cop killer who adamantly maintained his innocence.

Davis, found guilty of murder in the 1989 shooting of Columbus High graduate Mark A. MacPhail, was pronounced dead at 11:08 p.m.

The waiting game played out from Columbus to the state prison in Jackson where police in riot gear stood guard as Davis supporters gathered.

Early in the day it appeared Davis’ appeals had run out, but then the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the case, delaying the execution that had been set for 7 p.m. Wednesday.

At 10:04 p.m., MacPhail’s mother, Anneliese MacPhail, got a call from the Georgia attorney general’s office saying the stay was denied, paving the way for the execution.

Twice during the delay, MacPhail was interviewed live by CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

“I would like to close this book,” she told Cooper. She said the ordeal has been “hell.”

In Jackson, outside Georgia’s death-row prison, crowds protesting Davis’ execution cheered upon hearing the high court had agreed to review the case. But the upswell in enthusiasm followed tense moments during which at least three protesters across the street from the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison got arrested as the crowd there grew unruly.

After that, an army of corrections officers in riot gear deployed in front of the prison gate. The law enforcement presence later swelled as two convoys of Georgia state patrol cruisers, lights flashing and sirens blaring, pulled up on the north side of Georgia Highway 36 to seal off access to the prison. In the media area separated from the road by a fence, a prison representative told reporters they had five minutes to decide whether to stay in the secured area or leave. If they left, they would not be allowed back in.

Hundreds of protesters massed in a restricted area on the south side of the highway as black-clad officers in helmets and body armor, armed with batons and other riot gear, were arrayed across the prison entrance, as if expecting a charge. More stood with plastic wrist restraints, prepared to make arrests.

The atmosphere grew increasingly tense as Davis’ final appeals appeared to be running out.

The quiet inside the Death House as Davis breathed his last was in stark contrast to a day of protests by Davis supporters around the world who feared the state had sanctioned the killing of an innocent man. Scores of people crowded a field near the prison in the hours leading up to the execution, singing and praying that Davis be spared the lethal injection.

“There are so many Troy Davises out there,” said Ellen Kubica, 28, who came all the way from Germany to protest Davis’ execution. “This case has shed a light on all the injustices of the death penalty: its racism, its classism, its bias and everything.”

Davis always denied firing the shots that killed MacPhail. He said Wednesday he was willing to take a polygraph test — sacrificing precious time with family — in a last-ditch effort to persuade the state Board of Pardons and Paroles to spare his life. The Georgia Department of Corrections denied that request Wednesday morning, without explanation. “We’re very disappointed that under the circumstances they wouldn’t make that happen,” said Stephen Marsh, one of Davis’ attorneys.

The execution came just two days after the pardons board denied Davis clemency after a day of testimony in a closed-hearing in Atlanta. Defense attorneys sought to convince the five-member board that Davis’ guilt was too much in doubt to proceed with the execution. They pointed to several recent witness recantations, alleged police misconduct during the investigation and new testimony from a man who claimed he saw another man kill MacPhail.

The pardons board declined a request Wednesday to reconsider its decision. Davis’ final appeals also were rebuffed. Davis’ case was remarkable even in Georgia, a state with a storied death penalty history that has affected capital punishment across the country. It stood out not just for the worldwide attention it generated, but its unusual procedural history, which included three previous stays of execution and a rare intervention in 2009 by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Yet at every turn, Davis ultimately failed to convince the courts. A federal judge last year dismissed Davis’ claims as amounting to little more than “smoke and mirrors,” dealing a fatal blow to the defense.

Davis’ case stirred worldwide protests, rekindling the debate over the death penalty. The case shocked not only opponents of capital punishment but also some supporters. William S. Sessions, the former FBI director, argued the case had too many unresolved issues. Former President Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict XVI also weighed in.

Amnesty International expressed outrage at the pardons board’s refusal to spare Davis, saying the case underscored the fallibility of the courts and fundamental problems with the death penalty.


1woolyd(579 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Hmmmmmmm......................................we may have executed an innocent man today.

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2block50(128 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Certainly not the first time a possibly innocent soul was taken. The three 'R's (Rednecks, Racism and Re-election) seem to have played a part. I guess a reasonable doubt doesn't stand a chance in this country anymore. Bloodlust triumphed.

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3doowoptokidrock(325 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Great job Georgia you got the right man. This piece of trash got what he deserved.

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4VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Now that he is gone we will never know. But a federal judge once declared this all "smoke and mirrors", while Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict appealed the humanistic side of a death penalty.

Meanwhile, a cop is dead, his family continues to suffer and new issues pop up just before the execution after 20 years of silence. Who do we believe? The Supreme Court reviewed the case and said no. We have to let it rest at that.

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5republicanRick(1736 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

This man was absolutely guilty. Just another case where liberals want to circumvent the legal system and where liberals stand as judge and jury.

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6NoBS(2829 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Keep crying racism - the accusation does nothing any more but make people roll their eyes. Every time someone doesn't get what they want, it's always 'racism.' Everyone knows this, and it's why the term has lost all meaning.

Of course, at the 11th hour, the cop-killer is "willing to take a polygraph" - what's he got to lose? The offer carries weight among the weak-minded, who naively believe only the innocent would make such a request. But what's Davis got to lose by trying to see if he can fool the polygraph?

Davis' conviction was upheld in countless appellate courts, clear up to the federal level. That says all that needs to be said.

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7epicfail(217 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

"Davis' conviction was upheld in countless appellate courts, clear up to the federal level. That says all that needs to be said."

Government is perfect?

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8Attis(1134 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

And here we thought that lynching Black men in Georgia was a thing of the past...

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9republicanRick(1736 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

This was no lynching -- this was a black man tried, convicted, and put to death because of his terrible crime and lack of morals.

Black, white, asian, it doesn't matter. The guilty will be found out and punished.

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10Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

On on Jan. 23, 2010 an innocent woman was executed at St. Dominics Church . Her killer Jamar Houser proclaims his innocence also . Angeline Fimognari had no trial to judge her guilt of anything . Jamar Houser was her Judge ,Jury and executioner . Jamar soley decided if she was to live or die . He chose death for her .

The evidence showed that Troy Anthony Davis chose death for Mark A. MacPhail who was a member of the most hated in the eyes of Troy . Years later when memories get dim but recorded facts stand . Troy knew that as a member of the living he didn't deserve to die . How then,long before, could Mark A. MacPhail as member of the living deserve to die ? Why shouldn't Troy Anthony Davis pay the price for killing Mark A. MacPhail ? On 9/21/2011 Troy Anthony Davis entered before a jury who will decide his fate for eternity .


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11Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Great post and comment Stan
You do get it right sometimes

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12woolyd(579 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Stan that case has nothing to do with this case. While I understand your outcry for the Fimognari case to be tried and justice be served where is your concern for justice in all the other Youngstown homicide cases? I seem to think there is a reason you dont have such concer over other cases and that it may be racial. The bottomline is that there was sufficient enough evidence that the execution should have been delayed. Most of you comment up here with emotion and a lack of understanding of the law. You need to take the emotion out and just use some "common sense" in some cases.

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13ytown67(22 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

The Death Penalty is an useless method of punishment and should be abolished. It serves no purpose but for revenge and our society is based upon the rule of law not on revenge. The Death Penalty is on its way out as a way of punishment, its too expensive to maintain and it does nothing to deter crime. It is cheaper to imprison for life than it is to execute.

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14Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

woolyd :

"Stan that case has nothing to do with this case."

Both killings were of people who did nothing to warrant their deaths . . ..

Racial ? I had black friends who were shot and killed on the SouthSide . So it is racial when I suggest jobs and development on the SouthSide ? Your pulling out the race card is indeed racial . . ..

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15jasoninohio(119 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

1 more worthless dog of a human but down.

People say that the death penalty is not a deterrant for murder. While that mayor may not be true, the bottome line is that prison is for rehabilitaion. People who murder other people cannot be rehabilitated. People who murder other people need to be put to death quickly and swiftly.

Troy Davis made the choice to take another man's life. The only problem I have with this case is that it took over 20 years for the sentence to be carried out.

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16NoBS(2829 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Epicfail, our government may not be perfect, but it provides leadership. Grownups accept this even when they don't agree with it. And when appellate court after appellate court all upheld the same penalty, the rational assumption is that they were privy to just a little more information then we got in this emotion-laden, biased story.

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