By Brittney Hodnik
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
WASHINGTON, United States – The day before his scheduled execution, it seems Troy Davis has run out of options. The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles refused to grant Davis clemency, deciding that he should be put to death for killing Mark MacPhail, an off-duty police officer. Davis will die by lethal injection on September 21, 2011 at 7:00 in the evening E.S.T.
As reported by the New York Times, this is the fourth time Davis has faced the death penalty, as the state parole board granted him a stay in 2007. In 2008, the Supreme Court stepped in just 90 minutes before his execution. A week before his third execution, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued another stay to hear arguments from his lawyer about new testimony. Most recently, the Supreme Court refused to hear Davis’s case when he tried to appeal directly to them to examine new testimony.
Since Davis was found guilty in 1991 for murdering Officer MacPhail, seven of the nine witnesses have recanted or contradicted their statements, according to CNN. Furthermore, as reported by TIME, there was no physical evidence (fingerprints, DNA, weapon) linking Davis to the crime.
There is considerable doubt surrounding the case, generating support from former President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 51 members of Congress and singer Cee Lo Green, among others, according to The New York Times. More than 630,000 letters have made their way to the board, pleading to grant Troy Davis clemency. In addition, hundreds of petitions have circulated, showing support for Troy Davis, his family, and his lawyers for their struggles.
Interestingly, on September 20, the Supreme Court issued an order granting a stay of execution to Cleve Foster, just two and a half hours before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection in Texas. The Gulf War veteran, according to CNN, was convicted of the murder of Nyanuer “Mary” Pal, a Sudanese immigrant in 2002. This is the third time Foster has been granted a reprieve. These situations raise many questions about the adequacy of our legal system and the death penalty in general.
The District Attorney’s office released a statement today, informing citizens that they could not withdraw or vacate the execution order, as it was not within their power, according to WSAV News (an NBC affiliate). The Governor does not have the power to grant clemency in Georgia, so the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles was Davis’s last chance. The parole board had previously denied Davis clemency once before, as reported by CNN, and the board has never changed its mind on any case in the last 33 years.
“It is unconscionable that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied relief to Troy Davis. Allowing a man to be sent to death under an enormous cloud of doubt about his guilt is an outrageous affront to justice,” said Amnesty International in a statement on Tuesday, as reported by CNN.
The board is considered a “safety valve” according to TIME, and this safety valve has failed. Gallup polling in 2009 found that 59% of Americans would admit to believing that an innocent person has been executed sometime in the previous five years, according to TIME. It is not as though the board had to declare Davis innocent, but rather just admit that there is some – any – amount of doubt surrounding the case.
Anne MacPhail, Officer’s MacPhail’s mother told CNN that she is satisfied with the decision and she is “very convinced that he is guilty.” “Well, justice is done, that’s the way we look at it. That’s what we wanted,” she said.
Troy Davis will be executed at 7:00 p.m. at Georgia State Prison September 21, 2011. The New York Times reports that a vigil is planned for Tuesday night (September 20, 2011) on the steps of the Georgia State capital.
For more information, please visit:
CNN — Death-Row Inmate Troy Davis Denied Clemency – 20 Sept. 2011
CNN — Texas Death Row Inmate Granted Another Supreme Court Reprieve — 20 Sept. 2011
The New York Times — Georgia Pardons Board Denies Clemency for Death Row Inmate — 20 Sept. 2011
TIME — Troy Davis’ Clemency Denial: The Failure of a Legal ‘Safety Valve’ — 20 Sept. 2011
WSAV News — Chisholm: DA Does Not Have the Power to Withdraw Execution Order — 20 Sept. 2011