- Associated Press - Thursday, September 22, 2011

ATLANTA — Strapped to a gurney in Georgia’s death chamber, Troy Davis lifted his head and declared one last time that he did not kill police officer Mark MacPhail. Just a few feet away behind a glass window, MacPhail’s son and brother watched in silence.

Outside the prison, a crowd of more than 500 demonstrators cried, hugged, prayed and held candles. They represented hundreds of thousands of supporters worldwide who took up the anti-death penalty cause as Davis’ final days ticked away.

“I am innocent,” Davis said moments before he was executed Wednesday night. “All I can ask … is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth. I ask my family and friends to continue to fight this fight.”

Prosecutors and MacPhail’s family said justice had finally been served.

“I’m kind of numb. I can’t believe that it’s really happened,” MacPhail’s mother, Anneliese MacPhail, said in a telephone interview from her home in Columbus, Ga. “All the feelings of relief and peace I’ve been waiting for all these years, they will come later. I certainly do want some peace.”

Minister Lynn Hopkins (left) comforts her partner Carolyn Bond in Jackson, Ga., on Sept. 21, 2011, after hearing that the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute plea of Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis. Davis, who was convicted of killing off-duty Savannah officer Mark MacPhail in 1989, was executed later that night. (Associated Press)
Minister Lynn Hopkins (left) comforts her partner Carolyn Bond in Jackson, Ga., ... more >

She dismissed Davis’ claims of innocence.

“He’s been telling himself that for 22 years. You know how it is, he can talk himself into anything.”

Former President Jimmy Carter said in a statement to the Associated Press on Thursday he hopes Davis’ execution “will spur us as a nation toward the total rejection of capital punishment.”

“If one of our fellow citizens can be executed with so much doubt surrounding his guilt, then the death penalty system in our country is unjust and outdated,” Carter said.

Davis was executed late Wednesday night for the 1989 murder of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail. His supporters say he was the victim of mistaken identity, while prosecutors and MacPhail’s family said justice was finally served after four years of delays..

“If one of our fellow citizens can be executed with so much doubt surrounding his guilt, then the death penalty system in our country is unjust and outdated,” said Carter, who urged Georgia’s pardons board to block the execution.

Davis was scheduled to die at 7 p.m., but the hour came and went as the U.S. Supreme Court apparently weighed the case. More than three hours later, the high court said it wouldn’t intervene. The justices did not comment on their order rejecting Davis’ request for a stay.

Hundreds of thousands of people signed petitions on Davis’ behalf and he had prominent supporters. His attorneys said seven of nine key witnesses against him disputed all or parts of their testimony, but state and federal judges repeatedly ruled against him — three times on Wednesday alone.

When asked Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show if he thought the state had executed an innocent man, civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton said: “I believe that they did, but even beyond my belief, they clearly executed a man who had established much, much reasonable doubt.”

Officer MacPhail’s widow, Joan MacPhail-Harris, said it was “a time for healing for all families.”

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