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 514.

    Good riddence t'bad rubbish. Just like every other no good yobo he got what he deserved. This is what we used to call justice in my day, 'cept the only difference was the state didnt do it. The people did. Nowdays people can loot and murder at will an walk away with a caution or an ASBO at best. I say bring back National Service, I were in RAF and I turned out ok.

  • rate this

    Comment number 513.

    Don't forget in America its common for politicians (because that the person who ultimately can commute a death penalty) to use it as a political tool
    So they can claim they are hard on crime
    Don't forget Jimmy carter was happy to execute an insane person just months before his campaign for president
    Can anyone think its right to allow such shallow people as politicians any say in such things

  • rate this

    Comment number 512.

    This is the problem with any "justice system".

    You are NOT a murderer because you killed somebody - you are a murderer because a jury THINKS you killed somebody. Big difference!!
    This is why the death penalty is a bad idea - you cannot reverse mistakes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 511.

    Twenty years on death row; shame, shame shame.

  • rate this

    Comment number 510.

    In the appeals procedure, there seems to be a presumption of guilt that can only be broken by certainty of innocence.

    The supreme irony of this is that the doubt which should have prevented a death sentence has now prevented clemency.

  • rate this

    Comment number 509.

    Why this case? Is it suddenly cool to become an opponent of capital punishment one minute; relax and call for all police killers to be hanged? The death penalty is wrong and the UK is right in not implementing this archaic practice. A policeman and father of two children died violently. His family are portrayed as vengeful. There are too many glib remarks on here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 508.

    Governor Pat Quinn said when signing for the abolision of the death penalty in Illinois "If the system can't be guaranteed, 100-percent error-free, then we shouldn't have the system,"

    Past cases have shown that witnesses and police make mistakes or just lie. Even scientific evidence can be contaminated, mishandled or just wrong. 100% error free doesn't exist, hence neither should execution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 507.

    Isn't it about time americans stand up to this kind of stuff? Or is this what america wants and represents? Its disgusting this would not of happened if this man was white. The death penalty will never work! How does some one suffer if there dead? At least in a cell they are alive and even if they feel they do not care about being in jail one day or on there death bed it will suddenly hit them!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 506.

    As a Christian I truly feel ashamed that there are many Christians in the US who support the idea of capital punishment. They have never read the new testimony of the bible, where Jesus Christ opposes the "eye for an eye", preaches and lives forgiveness and love.

  • rate this

    Comment number 505.

    And Cry Freedom - *even* the Pope doesn't condem the death penalty? EVEN the Pope? What, he's some kind of moral authority, is he? Don't make me laugh.

  • rate this

    Comment number 504.

    As always its the criminals who get the sympathy forget the victims what do they matter . It seems now that regardless of a court convicting someone lets appeal and waste loads of public money . He was judged guilty end of . next

  • rate this

    Comment number 503.

    #443 alexojus and Green Future - can you tell me how you come to the conclusion that nobody is thinking or cares about the Police Officer killed and his family? The debate is about the execution of Troy Davis and so the comments will be about that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 502.

    Locust, you don't get it, do you? Justice and revenge are not the same thing. Not at all. Never. Of course I'd WANT anyone who harmed my family dead, but that just proves I'd be the worst person to make that decision. The law should be dispassionate, disinterested and fair, not motivated by revenge or anything that looks like revenge.

  • rate this

    Comment number 501.

    I greatly admire those American States, which have stuck with capital punishment. Execution is the only truly just and moral penalty for taking the life of another. Of course everything should be done to ensure that there are no miscarriages of justice, but in the end we have to accept that some innocent people may be executed, just as we accept the thousands of deaths on our roads.

  • rate this

    Comment number 500.

    Now the murder's family must suffer the pain of losing a loved one, just like the police officer's family. I really cannot understand some of these ill founded comments made by our citizens. The man was tried by his peers, given every safety net possible eg the right of appeal. Yes another murder executed but never to murder again. By the way I totally support capital punishment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 499.

    The sixth commandment, "Thou shalt not kill."

  • rate this

    Comment number 498.

    I feel as someone in the US, I need to comment. Everyone I know was horrified and saddened by the decision to execute Troy Davis. There was too much doubt. Some people have mentioned that we're forgetting the officer's family - we aren't. They have suffered endlessly. But putting another man to death whose "guilt" is extremely questionable just makes us lose faith in our justice system.

  • Comment number 497.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 496.


    Troy Davis may have been an evil murderer guilty of many crimes.

    The point is that there is at least prima facie evidence to suggest that he was not guilty of the murder of Mark McPhail. The damage done here by his execution is to the state of Georgia, the international reputation of the US justice system and potentially to those who encouraged this execution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 495.

    Too many readers see this as an issue of injustice of the US legal system, when in fact it was the State of Georgia who executed the man. Th US Supreme Court, if I am not mistaken, reviews the lower court cases and essentially reviews the legal validity of those rulings. Only the Governor of Georgia and not Obama can commute the sentence. Many states in the US do not have the death penalty.


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