By GREG BLUESTEIN Associated Press
Georgia’s pardons board rejected a last-ditch plea for clemency from death row inmate Troy Davis despite high-profile support for his claim that he was wrongly convicted of killing a police officer in 1989.
Earlier Davis’ execution was delayed. He was set to die at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, for the killing of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail, who was slain while rushing to help a homeless man being attacked. It was the fourth time in four years his execution had been scheduled by Georgia officials.
Steve Hayes, spokesman for the Board of Pardons and Paroles, said the panel decided to reject Davis’ request for clemency after hearing hours of testimony from his supporters and prosecutors.
Defense attorney Jason Ewart has said that the pardons board was likely Davis’ last option. The U.S. Supreme Court also denied a stay .
Davis’ lawyers have long argued Davis was a victim of mistaken identity. But prosecutors say they have no doubt that they charged the right person with the crime.
MacPhail’s relatives said they were relieved by the decision. ”That’s what we wanted, and that’s what we got,” said Anneliese MacPhail, the victim’s mother. ”We wanted to get it over with, and for him to get his punishment.”
”Justice was finally served for my father,” said Mark MacPhail Jr., who was an infant when his father was gunned down.
The degree of support for clemency for Davis was evident last week, when Amnesty International, the NAACP and other organizations delivered hundreds of thousands of letters and petition signatures to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles on Thursday morning. On Friday, Sept. 16, more than a thousand people participated in a 6 p.m. march from Atlanta’s Woodruff Park, led by death row exonerees and the national leaders of AIUSA and NAACP. The march ended at Ebenezer Baptist Church where there was an evening program of prayer, songs and speakers. Georgia’s Indigo Girls performed as well as gospel choirs. The event was one of more than 100 that took place across the United States and in countries from Peru to Hong Kong as part of Amnesty International’s Global Day of Solidarity for Troy Davis.
Kimberly Davis, the inmate’s sister, declined immediate comment on the decision, but joined the march Friday from Centennial Park to Ebenezer Baptist Church to not execute Davis because “there is too much doubt in this case.” Seven out of nine witnesses of the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony against Troy Davis, while others have indicated another man as the killer.
Amnesty International USA Director Larry Cox said in a statement that the decision was ”unconscionable.”
”Should Troy Davis be executed, Georgia may well have executed an innocent man and in so doing discredited the justice system,” Cox said.
Davis delivered over 240,000 petition signatures to the offices of Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm Wednesdayntervene and request that Davis’ death warrant be revoked. The Rev. Al Sharpton and NAACP Ben Jealous joined thousands rallying for Davis’ life to be spared.