Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Troy Davis Update: Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to Continue Deliberations on Tuesday

Sep 19, 2011

Board eyeing Troy Davis clemency request breaks for night

By Melanie Eversley,

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles is continuing the review that started this morning of the clemency requests on behalf of Troy Davis, 42, a convicted murderer sentenced to die on Wednesday. A jury found Davis guilty in 1991 of the 1989 murder of Mark MacPhail, a Savannah, Ga., police officer. People around the world who have rallied around Davis, from Jimmy Carter to Pope Benedict XVI to NAACP president Benjamin Jealous, point out that 10 witnesses have signed affidavits recanting their testimony, saying they were coerced by police.

Update at 7:40 p.m. ET: The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles has made it official and announced in a statement released to the media that it will have no decision today regarding the clemency request on behalf of Troy Davis.

"The Board can grant clemency and commute the death sentence to life without parole, life with the possibility of parole or deny clemency, or issue a stay to further consider the case," the statement reads.

Update at 7:19 p.m. ET: The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles has officially broken up for the day in its review of clemency requests for condemned inmate Troy Davis, says Joi Ridley, an NAACP spokeswoman who is in Atlanta following the proceedings.

Based on how the board has conducted itself in past reviews, the prevailing expectation among grassroots organizations observing the case is that the board will announce a decision on Tuesday, Ridley says.

Davis' execution is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

Update at 6:10 p.m. ET: Still no word from the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles as to whether it will grant clemency to convicted murder Troy Davis, scheduled to die by lethal injection on Wednesday.

With testimony now concluded from the defense and prosecution in the case that has drawn global attention, the family of slain officer Mark MacPhail says they hope the parole board will opt to allow the execution to take place, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting.

"What a travesty it would be if they don't uphold the death sentence," MacPhail's widow, Joan MacPhail Harris, says, calling the campaign to stay Davis' execution "a lie."

Celebrities such as Bianca Jagger and Russell Simmons, meantime, continued to send out posts via Twitter - using the hashtag or search term TooMuchDoubt - calling on the board to grant clemency.

Update at 5:37 p.m. ET: Prosecutors have finished their testimony before the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles and the panel has now begun deliberating, says Laura Moye, death penalty abolition campaign director at Amnesty International USA.

A crowd of people is waiting outside the building, and some of them camped out from the night before, Moye says. Among the group are two death row exonerees, she says.

Update at 4:18 p.m. ET: Supporters for Troy Davis do not necessarily know what direction they will take if the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles opts not to grant Davis clemency, says Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org, a grassroots online political organization based in Oakland and New York.

ColorOfChange.org delivered 100,000 of the petition signatures in favor of Davis and has been taking part in the online social media campaign in support of his clemency. All of Davis' appeals have been exhausted.

"At this point, there's not a clear path of what's next," Robinson says. "For us, our goal right now is to save Troy Davis' life."

Anneliese MacPhail, mother of the slain officer, has said that she would like to get the execution overwith so that she can have some peace.

Update at 3:42 p.m. ET: Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Martin Luther King's church, tells WSAV television in Savannah, Ga., that he was among the last to testify today in defense of Troy Davis before the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer president.

"I reminded the board that they have a unique role among the various entities in our criminal justice system that while they respond to the civil law they also have an obligation and in this case they have room to respond to a higher law," Warnock tells WSAV. "Our criminal justice system keeps pressing 'pause.'

There's something in the gut that says he should not be executed. That's why the 11th Circuit stopped it. That's why the Supreme Court stopped it. This own board stopped it two years ago, yet here we are."

Warnock tells the news organization he's on his way to visit Davis in prison in Jackson, Ga.

Update at 3:03 p.m. ET: Several family members of Troy Davis testified earlier today in the defense portion of the hearing. They are now going back and forth between the Atlanta building where the hearing is taking place and hotel rooms to take breaks, says Joi Ridley, an NAACP spokeswoman.

Among the family members present on Monday were his sisters, Kimberly Davis and Martina Correia, and his nephew, De'Juan Davis-Correia, Ridley says.

One of the original jurors, Brenda Forrest, also is there, WSAV television is reporting.

Update at 2:30 p.m. ET: Supporters for Troy Davis say the petition signatures they began collecting several days ago in person and via the Internet now are nearing 1 million.

The defense team had finished and the prosecution was about to begin presenting its case, says Wende Gozan Brown, media relations director for Amnesty International USA.

Amnesty and the NAACP had teamed up to undertake a social media campaign to collect signatures for petitions requesting clemency from the board for Davis.

Steve Hayes, spokesman for the board, says a decision from the board could come today or tomorrow, but it was still hard to tell.

On Sunday, Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., sent a letter to the board urging it to grant clemency.

Updated at 2:08 p.m. ET: Troy Davis' legal team has finished presenting its case in what the team calls its last-ditch bid to win clemency, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

"We believe we have established substantial doubt in this case," defense lawyer Stephen Marsh told the state parole board. Prosecutors began making their case after Marsh's team finished.

Original post: The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles is now meeting to determine whether to grant clemency to convicted cop killer Troy Davis or allow Wednesday's execution to go forward, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Outside the building across from the state Capitol, dozens of protesters are holding a vigil, many carrying "I Am Troy Davis" placards, the paper's website reports.

Davis was sentenced to die by injection for the 1989 murder of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail. The former Army Ranger, who had a wife and two young children, was shot three times.

Davis has always maintained his innocence. His case generated worldwide attention after a number of witnesses recanted or backed away from trial testimony that implicated Davis in the shooting. Still, his legal appeals appear to be exhausted, so the parole board could be his last chance to avoid execution.

A host of dignitaries have asked the parole board to grant Davis clemency. These include former president Jimmy Carter, former FBI director William Sessions, former Georgia congressman Bob Barr and former Georgia Supreme Court chief justice Norman Fletcher.

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