ATLANTA — Georgia’s board of pardons rejected a last-ditch clemency bid from Troy Davis on Tuesday, one day before his scheduled execution, despite support from figures including a former 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 by injection for killing off-duty Savannah Officer Mark MacPhail, who was shot 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 the shooting occurred. “The truth was finally heard.”
Davis captured worldwide attention after his supporters raised concerns that he was a victim of mistaken identity. Several of the witnesses who helped convict Davis at his 1991 trial have backed off their testimony or recanted. Others who did not testify say another man at the scene admitted being the killer.
The decision appeared to leave Davis, who is black, with little chance of delaying his execution date. The state Board of Pardons and Paroles has sole authority in Georgia to commute an inmate’s sentence. Gov. Nathan Deal has no say in the issue. Defense attorney Jason Ewart, though, didn’t rule out filing another legal appeal.
Davis supporters said they will push the pardons board to reconsider the case and they urged prison workers to strike or call in sick Wednesday to prevent Davis‘ execution. They also will ask 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 Monday. “This is Jim Crow in a new era. There’s too much doubt for this execution to continue.”
In a brief statement, the five-member pardons board said it carefully reviewed the case before deciding to deny clemency. The board, which votes behind closed doors, did not issue a breakdown of the vote, but said the members “have not taken their responsibility lightly and certainly understand the emotions attached to a death penalty case.”
MacPhail was shot 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 have said Davis was with another man who was demanding that Mr. 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 as he shot the officer.
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 Rep. Bob Barr, former Justice Department official Larry Thompson and onetime FBI Director William Sessions.