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.


More on This Story


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 494.

    State sponsored murder can never be supported. For those who say, "what about the victim"? you miss the point entirely. The thing that sets civilised societies apart from backward ones, is that we don't kill our criminals. There is always a political dimension to all state sponsored murders in the US, so any supposed moral highground is invalid. Worse, it looks like David wasn't even guilty!

  • rate this

    Comment number 493.

    Graham(113) - I'm glad it's good enough for you however US prosecutors have a nasty habit of never admitting they're wrong. At best they'll say that there's no longer sufficient evidence to base a conviction on. Without DNA it's very difficult to get anyone to listen. Trouble is a huge number of cases such as this one have no DNA available or relevant to the case, so the DA just digs his heels in

  • rate this

    Comment number 492.

    I have every sympathy for the family of the murdered policeman, but there was far too much doubt about the guilt of Troy Davis for a conviction. Witnesses changing statements, no murder weapon found, doubts about the forensic evidence and no DNA - this adds up to a wholly unsafe verdict. It was cruel and a travesty of justice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 491.

    The land of the free?

  • rate this

    Comment number 490.

    Doesn't bother me one iota. I suggest all those who are whining read the facts. We should return to capital punishment in the UK - even at the possible risk of errors. The alternative, which we endure now, is certain escalation of violence, certain murder of innocents and undeniably pathetic 'hotel sentences' for wholly bad people. China has got it right, we have got it wrong IMHO.

  • rate this

    Comment number 489.

    To keep prisoners on Death Row for decades is, despite the lip service to the justice system, simply barbaric. To kill twenty years post conviction is cold blooded retribution. Everybody dies, what kind of punishment is that? No one can avoid death! Believers know that God will mete out justice but those who do not must rely on violence. America is bankrupt in morals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 488.

    This continues to show the brutal side of the american justice system.A wrong that can never be put right.The americans show they want a final end and have kept the double jeopardy law and death sentence in some states.
    Now in the uk we have appeal after appeal until free and now we have trial after trial until we get the suspect we want jailed,jailed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 487.

    It's a strange, skewed world that we live in when the United States is considered to have such moral superiority.

    So, do you believe that all which is provided to maintain your life & lifestyle is obtained without others suffering & living in conditions which in the west we wouldnt allow a dog to live in.
    Your own moral supremacy is skewed, illogical & non existant

  • rate this

    Comment number 486.

    I agree with capital punishment in principle, if one person takes another's life they forfeit their right to life themself. In practise it is grossly flawed because:
    1) The accused ends up getting all the sympathy & attention and the victim is largely forgotten.
    2) Too many innocent people are wrongly convicted, particularly the poorly educated.
    3) It is more expensive than life imprisonment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 485.

    Dear Matt (410), sorry - I don't know what "clemancy" is. I guess it's to do with using the occult to resurrect small dead citrus fruits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 484.

    I'm against the death-penalty, so I am obviously against this execution.

    But I have doubts about the coverage. The political and careers consequences for anyone involved in a deliberate attempt to condemn an innocent black man would be appalling, so it is all probably a lot less clear-cut than would appear from the coverage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 483.

    As an American, I am sickened. I am ashamed. And I am afraid. If this can happen to Troy Davis, it can happen to me or someone I love.

  • rate this

    Comment number 482.

    Whilst I do not agree with the death penalty, we must remember that the full force of the judicial system has found this man guilty. Yes, witnesses changed their minds, but that is very easy to do after 20 years when a mans life is on the line. People who have not seen all the evidence, are not qualified to argue. May Mark McPhail and his family now find peace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 481.

    Oh here we go again with the "its because he was black" rubbish!! What about the white prisoner executed on Wednesday for murder? No one complained about that! The fact is it dont matter what colour your skin is, if you commit the crime you take the punishment. I can't see any civilised country executing anyone without being completely sure. Its yet again media scandel thats causing the doubt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 480.

    @413. Scholesy
    I think there is a marked difference between stoning a woman to death for adultery for example and giving a murderer a lethal injection

  • Comment number 479.

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

  • Comment number 478.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 477.

    I was hoping that the death penalty could be re-introduced here in the UK for child murderers and serial killers - but only if it was proven beyond all reasonable doubt. This does not seem to be the case here and if this man who has been executed for this crime is innocent then there is someone out there who got away with murder.

  • rate this

    Comment number 476.

    The comment from CambridgeUs eloquently sums up this whole sordid matter. Whatever happened to the legal presumption of innocence? This case raises some very serious questions on American legal procedures and I shudder to think of the international repurcussions of this vile and illegal act

  • rate this

    Comment number 475.

    Strange how the opponents of the death penalty had plenty to say about the execution of Troy Davis but there was not a squeak about Russell Brewers. People are making judgements about the individuals involved and deciding whether they are worthy of living. This is rubbish. If you oppose the death penalty it is wrong full stop whether it is Mother Theresa or the Yorkshire ripper.


Page 9 of 33


More US & Canada stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.