ATLANTA — Georgia’s board of pardons rejected a last-ditch clemency bid from death row inmate Troy Davis on Tuesday, one day before his scheduled execution, despite support from figures including an ex-president and a former FBI director for the claim that he was wrongly convicted of killing a police officer in 1989.
Davis is scheduled to die Wednesday at 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT) by injection for killing off-duty Savannah officer Mark MacPhail, who was shot dead while rushing to help a homeless man being attacked. It is the fourth time in four years that Davis‘ execution has been scheduled by Georgia officials.
“Justice was finally served for my father,” said Mark MacPhail Jr., who was an infant when his father was gunned down. “The truth was finally heard.”
The decision appeared to leave Davis with little chance of avoiding his execution date. Defense attorney Jason Ewart has said that the pardons board was likely Davis‘ last option, but he didn’t rule out filing another legal appeal.
Kim Davis, the inmate’s sister, declined immediate comment on the decision. But his supporters said they will push the pardons board to reconsider the case and urge prison workers to strike or call in sick on Wednesday to prevent Davis‘ execution. They also will push Savannah prosecutors to block the execution.
“This is a civil rights violation and a human rights violation in the worst way,” said the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who spoke to the board on Davis‘ behalf on Monday. “There’s too much doubt for this execution to continue.”
Georgia’s Board of Pardons and Paroles said it considered “the totality of the information presented” before deciding to deny clemency.
“The Board members have not taken their responsibility lightly and certainly understand the emotions attached to a death penalty case,” the five-person panel said in a statement.
Among those who supported Davis‘ clemency request are former president Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict XVI. A host of conservative figures have also advocated on his behalf, including former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, ex-Justice Department official Larry Thompson and one-time FBI Director William Sessions.
MacPhail was shot to death Aug. 19, 1989, after coming to the aid of Larry Young, a homeless man who was pistol-whipped in a Burger King parking lot. Prosecutors say Davis was with another man who was demanding that Young give him a beer when Davis pulled out a handgun and bashed Young with it. When MacPhail arrived to help, they say Davis had a smirk on his face when he shot the officer to death.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said it was considering asking President Barack Obama to intervene. Obama cannot grant Davis clemency because Davis was convicted in state court, but could potentially halt the execution by asking for an investigation into a federal issue if one exists, according to Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.
Dieter said he thought it was unlikely Obama would intervene.
Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton, who plans to hold a vigil at the state prison in Jackson on Wednesday, called on supporters to urge Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm to block the execution.
“This is probably the most egregious injustice I have seen in a long time, to set a precedent that a man can be executed when the evidence against him has mostly been recanted,” said Sharpton. “It’s unthinkable.”