State denies clemency for Davis, faces Wednesday execution

ATLANTA — The State Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied clemency for Troy Anthony Davis, seemingly paving the way for his Wednesday execution for the 1989 shooting death of an off-duty Savannah police officer.

“The Board members have not taken their responsibility lightly and certainly understand the emotions attached to a death penalty case,” the board said in a statement. “The Board has considered the totality of the information presented in this case and thoroughly deliberated on it, after which the decision was to deny clemency.”

The board added: “Since 2000, the Board has commuted three death penalty cases. In considering clemency in such cases, the Board weighs each case on its own merit.”

Davis, 42, is set to be executed at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson for the August 1989 shooting death of off-duty Savannah police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail.

Davis’ execution has been previously postponed three times pending appeals. His supporters have organized countless vigils and marches, contending that he has been wrongly convicted, pointing to a number of prosecution witnesses who have recanted their testimony since the original 1991 trial.
Arguments over the testimony that led to Davis’ conviction and death sentence prompted the U.S. Supreme Court in August 2009 to order a federal court judge to “make findings of fact as to whether evidence that could not have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes (Davis’) innocence.” A federal judge in August 2010 ruled Davis “is not innocent.”

“Davis’s new evidence does not change the balance of proof from trial,” U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore wrote in his August 2010 opinion. “Of his seven ‘recantations,’ only one is a meaningful, credible recantation. … The value of that recantation is diminished because it only confirms that which was obvious at trial — that its author was testifying falsely.”

Moore also noted: “Ultimately, while Mr. Davis’s new evidence casts some additional, minimal doubt on his conviction, it is largely smoke and mirrors. The vast majority of the evidence at trial remains intact, and the new evidence is largely not credible or lacking in probative value.”

Still, Davis’ supporters were quick to condemn the State Board of Pardons and Paroles for its decision.

“This is a sad, grim day in Georgia,” U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said in a statement. “We have come a great distance in Georgia, but today we have demonstrated we still have a great distance to go before we build a society based on simple justice that values the dignity and the worth of every human being. We are not there yet. I am deeply saddened and deeply disappointed by this decision, but in light of all I have seen through the years, it does not surprise me.”

Read Moore’s opinion here:

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