Death Penalty

Troy Davis Tells Officer's Family He Is Innocent, Then Dies by Lethal Injection

A Georgia death-row inmate who asserted actual innocence in failed appeals made the same claim as he lay strapped to a lethal-injection gurney before his execution late Wednesday.

Troy Anthony Davis lifted his head and looked at the family of slain Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Associated Press and the New York Times. “The incident that night was not my fault, I did not have a gun,” he said. “I did not personally kill your son, father and brother. I am innocent.”

Davis was declared dead at 11:08 p.m. He was originally scheduled to die at 7 p.m., but the lethal injection was delayed by a last-minute appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. More than three hours past the time set for execution, the court denied cert.

Seven out of nine witnesses against Davis had recanted their testimony. According to the Journal-Constitution, “His death-penalty case was one of the most bitterly contested and controversial in Georgia history.” Hundreds of supporters rallied outside the prison.

The ABA had urged the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant Davis clemency. “The ABA has identified serious, long-standing concerns with the fair administration of Georgia’s death penalty,” ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III said in a statement. “Many of these problems were present at the time of the investigation and prosecution of Mr. Davis’ case, and persisted through every stage of appeal. … Deciding not to execute Mr. Davis will serve justice by reaffirming that the justice system does not utilize the death penalty for anyone whose guilt is reasonably in question.”

A Georgia federal judge re-examining the evidence last year had concluded jurors would still find Davis guilty of the 1989 murder, saying new evidence to the contrary is “largely smoke and mirrors.”

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