Troy Davis executed in Georgia amid innocence protests


Witnesses at his death said he was defiant in proclaiming his innocence to the end

Death row inmate Troy Davis has been executed in the US state of Georgia for the fatal shooting of policeman Mark MacPhail in 1989.

Davis' death was delayed for hours while the US Supreme Court considered an eleventh-hour appeal for clemency.

The 42-year-old's case was heavily disputed after most of the witnesses recanted or changed their testimony.

Inside the jail in Jackson, Georgia, Davis protested his innocence until the end as supporters protested outside.

There was a heavy police presence as hundreds held a vigil awaiting news from the US Supreme Court.

"I am innocent," Davis said moments before he was executed. "I did not have a gun."

Davis was convicted in 1991 of killing MacPhail, an off-duty police officer, but always maintained he was innocent.

The US Supreme Court judges took more than four hours to issue their rejection of the final appeal, an unusually long time for such a ruling.

"The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice [Clarence] Thomas and by him referred to the Court is denied," it read.

Davis continued to protest his innocence in the death chamber.

Troy Davis Davis's execution date had already been moved several times

"For those about to take my life, may God have mercy on your souls. May God bless your souls.

"All I can ask... is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth. I ask my family and friends to continue to fight this fight."

Davis was pronounced dead at 23:08 (03:08 GMT Thursday), 15 minutes after the lethal injection began.

Ballistic 'flawed'

MacPhail was shot dead in July 1989 as he tried to help a homeless man who was being attacked in a Burger King car park.

Prosecutors said Davis was beating the man with a gun after demanding a beer from him.

No gun was found and no DNA evidence conclusively linked Davis to the murder.

On Wednesday morning, Davis' lawyers appealed to the county court responsible for Georgia's death row, but that was also rejected.

The legal team had argued that ballistic testing from the case was flawed.

The pardons board also dismissed an appeal to reconsider their decision on Monday to deny Davis clemency.

Prosecutors said they had no doubts as to his guilt.

Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail Mark MacPhail was shot dead in 1989 as he tried to defend a homeless man

"I'm kind of numb. I can't believe that it's really happened," Anneliese MacPhail, the mother of the murdered policeman, told the Associated Press news agency after Davis was killed.

"All the feelings of relief and peace I've been waiting for all these years, they will come later. I certainly do want some peace."

Davis counted Pope Benedict XVI and former US President Jimmy Carter among his supporters, as well as US conservative figures like former member of the House of Representatives Bob Barr and former FBI director William Sessions.

Outside the prison, hundreds of people gathered chanting: "They say, death row; we say, hell no".

Around 10 counter-demonstrators were also present, voicing support for the death penalty and for the family of MacPhail.

There was a heavy police presence, including large numbers of riot police, but no disturbances were reported.

International protests

Davis' execution date had already been changed three times.

Protests had taken on an international dimension since Monday's decision to deny clemency by the Georgia pardons board.

The Council of Europe had also called for Davis' sentence to be commuted.

Amnesty International and other groups organised protests at the US embassy in Paris, where 150 people gathered in Place de la Concorde, holding signs bearing Davis' image.

"We strongly deplore that the numerous appeals for clemency were not heeded," the French foreign ministry said after the execution.

In Washington DC dozens gathered outside the White House, in the hope that President Barack Obama might intervene at the last-minute.

But White House press secretary Jay Carney said it would not be appropriate for the president to interfere in specific cases of state prosecution, such as this one.

Reports suggested around a dozen people were arrested for refusing to co-operate with police.

Meanwhile in the US state of Texas another death row inmate, Lawrence Russell Brewer, was executed on Wednesday evening - in a very different case.

In 1998, white supremacist gang member Brewer, 44, dragged a black man chained to the back of a pick-up truck along a road until he died.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    The hypocrisy. They should not condemn China, Burma et all for her human rights when she cannot respect the basic human rights of an induvidual. I am sure this will hunt Obama and his administration to the very end

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    To Mr Will Richards. How is it that us "do gooders" asking for a reinvestigation into a case that has an enormous amount of doubt surrounding it is somehow related to Islamic Terrorism? 7 of the 9 witnesses have changed their statement, one has refused to talk to anyone since, and the last was the one who first accused Mr. Davis and their is evidence against him for this crime.

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    "No gun was found and no DNA evidence conclusively linked Davis to the murder", so it wasn't proved that he killed the policeman. He should not have been executed and he'd already served a much longer sentence than many people do who are found guilty of similar crimes in the UK, so in my opinion should have been released. This is injustice at its very worst.

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    How sad, through Amnesty's message system I personally sent several emails to the board of parole begging for a reprieve. Whether he was truly innocent, to me, is mostly irrelevant. This guy was murdered with little evidence to convict him and even less at his death, this sets a very bad precedent in a supposedly liberal democracy, corporate police state more like.

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    Americans doing what Americans do best - killing people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    Even more sordid is the fact they delayed it for hours. How many times did Davis die in his head?

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    They can give themselves a huge pat on the back this Sunday in their sanctimonious holy ritual of cleansing their own sins.

  • Comment number 187.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    I believe in some circumstances the death penalty should be considered. Situations where there are serial killers proven beyond doubt... But then are these people mentally ill because surely a sane person would not act in such a manner? its a area I have for years struggled with.... However speedthrills is right we cannot judge other counties rules when our own are more than questionable

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    @102. Will Richards
    "This case was effectively tried again, and again, and again, over twenty years, until all the legal avenues were closed."

    No it wasn't. It was tried once, in 1991, and then procedurally appealed in line with AEDPA 1996 which effectively requires a prisoner under sentence of death in the US to prove INNOCENCE beyond all reasonable doubt. How do you do that?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    If murderers are executed, then it will deter others.
    Didn't deter this guy did it? If he is indeed a murderer.

    Others will be murdered today in the state of Georgia - it won't deter them either.

    Only difference is that another person is dead instead of alive. That's all executions do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    The Georgia justice department actually blocked any emails heading in from the amnesty international website, as they'd sent about 40,000 emails from supporters all over the world. It strikes me that evidence doesn't matter in cases of cop killing. Google Lisl Auman for a perfect example of the backwards US "justice" system

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    There is definite doubt about this man's guilt. anyone thinking of restoring this barbaric act here must be mad. I presume Dude08 must be his nickname and age

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    I'm disgusted at the circumstances surrounding this execution. The United States clearly thinks that it's alright to execute people even if there is fresh evidence that makes commution of a sentence possible. This is one of many reasons why I am vehemently against capital punishment. Miscarriages of justice can have disasterous and irreversible consequences. May Troy Davis rest in peace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    How is the death penalty a deterrent? Death Row is rammed to the gills. It's not a deterrent because people think at the time they wont get caught, are crazy, stupid or just don't care. You can't go around killing people with a seriously flawed legal system that is corrupt, racist and favours those with money and power. The US even executes people who were juveniles at the time of offence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    The killing of Troy Davis was disgusting, shameful and obscene! The death penalty has nothing to do with justice, and everything to do with revenge. The USA stinks of hypocrisy. No civilized country could have done this considering the level of doubt that hung over this man's conviction. The state obviously had a set agenda to kill this man no matter what evidence it was presented with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    Re: Bielzibubz

    I haven't read the article you mention, however it's a little naive to suggest that knowing the facts on ONE case will benefit us in judging the entire judicial system of the US. I, like many others here, am of the opinion the system is wrong whether you are innocent OR guilty. The taking of a life is either God's choice alone, or if you are a non-believer, just plain wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    Much as I approve of the idea of the death penalty, I have to concede that the merest margin for error in prosecution makes it entirely unfair. I don't know all the facts of this case, but I feel for everyone involved, especially when it takes a legal system 20+ years to come to such a conclusion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    For a country so proud of its Christian heritage, forever projecting it's supposed moral and ethical values across the world, the US should be utterly ashamed. No legal system in the world can determine absolute and irreproachable guilt beyond doubt to such finality as to setence someone death. The death penalty is nothing short of barbarism, sensationalising the rule of law to render it a farce.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    To "normal-thinker", in recent times 138 people have been exonerated from death row in the US, having been acquitted at retrial, or having had all charges dismissed, with an average of 10 years between original conviction and exoneration. Perhaps you should take into account the possibility of wrongful conviction before going all trigger happy.


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