Early Tuesday morning, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles elected to deny clemency to Troy Davis, letting his original punishment stand. His date of execution by lethal injection will take place September 21st as scheduled. The fate of Davis, 42 rested in the hands of the five board members. They are the only entity in Georgia with the power to convert Davis’ death sentence, outside of a last-minute appeal by the U.S. Supreme Court. The board started hearing testimony surrounding Davis’ case on Monday.
The board made up of one woman and four men spent several hours hearing testimony from Davis supporters, as well as, those who are in opposition of Davis seeking clemency. One of the new supporters included a woman who had signed an affidavit saying she heard Sylvester “Redd” Coles; identify himself as the killer at the crime scene. There will also be statements from seven key witnesses to the crime, who since the initial trial have recanted their testimony.
The parole board also heard from one of the jurors who originally sought the death penalty for Davis. During her testimony on Monday, Brenda Forrest told the panel that she no longer trusted the verdict: “I feel, emphatically, that Mr. Davis cannot be executed under these circumstances,” she said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Davis’ case has garnered international attention, since his impending day of execution this week. While Davis was sentenced to death 20 years ago for the murder of Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail. During the course of his time incarcerated, his case has caught the attention of various dignitaries, such as former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher and former FBI Director William Sessions, who all believe that Davis should receive clemency.
Amnesty International Death Penalty Abolition Campaign Director Laura Moye discussed with BET.com how this case shines a harsh light on the legal system.
“The legal system has been very hampered by a narrow focus on procedure and process and has ignored the fundamental question of whether the State of Georgia can really rely on the conviction and death sentencing of Troy Davis anymore, Moye commented. “This board has wide enough discretion that they can really look at the doubts and decide whether they feel comfortable allowing the execution when there is so much doubt.”
The internet community has also been buzzing in support, with Twitter promoting the hashtag #toomuchdoubt bringing attention to the idea that Georgia may potentially execute an innocent man. Also, close to 1 million signatures have been collected in a petition supporting Davis attempt at clemency. Protestors have also been holding demonstrations outside the board meeting in Atlanta with posters saying “Justice for Tray Davis” and “I Am Troy Davis.” Demonstrations were also held in 300 towns across the globe, which perhaps shows a changing attitude towards executions.
This Wednesday marked the fourth time the state of Georgia has set a date for Davis to be put to death by lethal injection. In July 2007, the state parole board granted Davis a stay after he’d said his final goodbyes to visitors. The next year, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in less than two hours before he was due to be executed. Seven months later, the federal appeals courts halted another execution attempt, which led to Davis receiving a new hearing, which later proved unsuccessful.
Cynthia Wright is an avid lover of all things geeky. When she isn’t freelancing, she can be found on her blog BGA Life and on Twitter at @cynisright.