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 634.

    dilemma (481) - I can't see any civilised country executing anyone without being completely sure.

    The UK was completely sure of Timothy Evans guilt when he was executed for a crime he did not commit. If the death penalty had still been available we would have executed the Guildford Four, the Birmingham Six, Judith Ward, the Bridgewater Three to name but a few - all miscarriages of justice!

  • rate this

    Comment number 633.

    Lets get this right.

    The same anti-death brigade go out of their way to protect & support ALL murderers to prevent them receiving the death penalty.

    They would do the same for Hitler, Stalin, Gadaffi, Saddam, & all of historys murderers & mass murderers.

    They do not believe in the death penalty at all & this case is one which they just twist & manipulate for their "moral supremacy"

  • rate this

    Comment number 632.

    Something is very wrong here. No gun, no DNA, problems with the witness statements; is this another murder?

  • rate this

    Comment number 631.

    592.Billy The Bull
    22 Minutes ago
    Jesus Himself was the victim of gross injustice being scourged and crucified for a trumped up charge of blasphemy but EVERYONE should note that 3 days later He rose from the dead and even Doubting Thomas was convinced of the FACT.


    Great all we need is a fairy tale to make a point about something so serious. Prove your FACTS not hearsay but FACTS...

  • Comment number 630.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 629.

    Jo.482. This is nonsense, a corrupt judicial system ifound him guilty. People said they were coerced into making statements by police, they retracted them and this must come into play for the sake of justice. One person who didn't retract his statement is vindicated himself by 9 other people as the murderer. Why was this ignored and the execution proceeded with?

  • rate this

    Comment number 628.

    What bothers me is the fact people believe this is actually 'justice'! The U.S. Judicial system is a gross hypocrisy. It refuses to be accountable. Some say "Justice was done!" for the shooting of an officer by a black man, regardless of the flawed evidence used to convict and murder him! Does everyone forget the repulsive injustice of Rodney King murdered by 3 policemen who all got off for it!?

  • rate this

    Comment number 627.

    A501 You say "We have to accept some innocent people may be executed just as we accept thousands of deaths on our roads." Execution is a deliberate act .Why should we accpt it as normal. How many deliberate accidents are there....if a man (drunk or otherwise) runs out in front of my car and dies should I as the driver of the car be executed for taking a life. Get some sense this is a mans life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 626.

    When it comes to executions, we have to ask why the US has such a high level. Is it that there is something wrong with their society or their legal system? In this case, from what we hear about the unreliability of much of the evidence in the original court case and an apparent failure to properly re-examine the case, this would suggest it may be the legal system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 625.

    I am a supporter of the death penalty but there was just too much doubt here. If they didn't feel as though they could release him or commute his sentence, at the very least they should have had a re-trial.

    I understand the family's desire for revenge but if I were them I would want to know that the person paying the price was the right one - not just the one the police found convenient.

  • rate this

    Comment number 624.

    Somebody say what we are all thinking. He was convicted because he was black.

    No, we do not all think as you do.

    So, you are calling/stating the majority black jurers racist, thats just pure ignorance, stupid & terrible & basically racist in itself. BBC should KNOW this simple basic FACT & REMOVE your attrocious comment

  • rate this

    Comment number 623.

    this man should not have been executed because there was conflicting evidence and witnesses changing there minds .if there is any doubt then a retrial should have ta\ken place .his case should have been commuted to life imprisonment and his case looked at again .my condolences to his family .

  • Comment number 622.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 621.

    I am surprised that a mainly christian state would want to apply the death penalty. Isn't one of the commandments 'You shall not kill'? Wars may be a debatable necessity sometimes but death penalty...It's an aberration and goes against christian principles.

  • rate this

    Comment number 620.

    Echoes of the James Earl Reed case from 2008 - no forensic evidence, no weapon found, etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 619.

    'RobertUSMC' Yup, you're sure right about that. We're already well on our way to becoming another Islamic State, but then the upside is that at least we can be certain our mass murderers will not be given protection under the Human Rights Act, and we the poor taxpayers won't need to fund their education and satelite TV while they're in jail (however short a time that is).

  • rate this

    Comment number 618.

    This is no more than a revenge killing – cold, premeditated murder.

    The perpetrators should be arrested for the crime of murder and all those who enabled, approved, sanctioned or in anyway supported this killing should be arrested as being accessories to the crime.

  • rate this

    Comment number 617.

    @ Peter_Sym. Troy Davis is looked on as a saint. If you see him as an innocent man in this case, then you would also be sickened and ashamed. He might have commited some other crimes in his life but he was adamant to the death that he did not kill Mark MacPhail. the death penalty is a bad idea considering that it is imposed by humans who could be wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 616.

    Statistics US prison racial ratios are bad enough, but death row statistics are even worse. The US jails more people per capita than any other country in the world. 40% of the prison population is black and nearly half those on death row are black. African Americans form 13% of the population.

  • rate this

    Comment number 615.

    While I sympathise with Mr. MacPhail's family's desire for justice, I'm uncertain that justice has been done. So much doubt surrounds Mr. Davis's involvement that it is possible the USA has killed an innocent man. The death sentence is flawed for this reaon: criminal justice systems DO makes mistakes. This means that innocent people will have been executed. Surely this should never be permitted?


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