Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Georgia Parole Board Rejects Clemency Appeal for Troy Davis

Georgia parole board rejects appeal for Troy Davis

A Georgia parole board denied a last-ditch clemency appeal by death row prisoner Troy Davis on Tuesday, who is now set to be executed on Wednesday over the murder of a police officer.

Davis' case has attracted international attention and became a focus for death penalty opponents because seven of nine trial witnesses have since recanted their testimony, prompting supporters to say he may be innocent.

But two legal experts said yesterday's decision by Georgia's Board of Pardons and Paroles closes the most viable legal avenue for Davis in his bid to avoid execution.

"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 state body said in a statement.

Davis was convicted of the 1989 killing of police officer Mark MacPhail near a Burger King restaurant in Savannah, Georgia. MacPhail's family says Davis is guilty and should be executed.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu and Helen Prejean, – who wrote "Dead Man Walking," a book about a death-row inmate – have issued statements on Davis' behalf, and around 2,000 people including civil rights leaders rallied in his support on Friday.

"We are determined to fight on behalf of Mr Troy Davis and on behalf of justice in Georgia," Raphael Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta told a news conference after Tuesday's decision.

"We should be very clear that this is a civil rights violation and a human rights violation in the worst way," said Mr Warnock, whose church was once led by civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

The case has been through a series of appeals, and the US Supreme Court took the rare step in August 2009 of ordering a new hearing for Davis to assess what his lawyers said was new evidence showing his innocence.

The justices transferred the case to a US District Court in Georgia for a hearing and determination of his claims that new witnesses will clearly establish his innocence. A year later, the judge, William Moore, rejected Davis' claims of innocence.

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