Troy Davis Execution Given the Okay; NAACP Turns to White House for Help

Sep 21, 2011, 07:38 by R.E. Christian

The NAACP may appeal to U.S. President Barack Obama to halt the scheduled execution of convicted cop killer Troy Davis, the civil rights group said.

The appeal for executive clemency, after Georgia's pardon and parole board Tuesday denied clemency to Davis, is a "long shot," NAACP Georgia State Conference President Edward DuBose told the Los Angeles Times, but appears to be the only avenue left.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Davis' appeal in March, and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal does not have the power to commute a death sentence, unlike governor powers in many other states.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have argued Davis should be spared death by lethal injection based on new evidence that emerged after his jury trial, including numerous key witnesses who changed their stories that originally implicated him.

Conservatives including former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., and former FBI Director William Sessions have expressed similar concerns.

The pardon and parole board did not give a reason for its denial, but said its five members had "not taken their responsibility lightly and certainly understand the emotions attached to a death penalty case."

The family of Mark Allen MacPhail -- a Savannah, Ga., police officer who, while working as a security guard, was gunned down in 1989 as he sought to aid a beating victim in a city parking lot -- contend the jury was correct in convicting Davis in 1991 and say the death penalty is warranted.

Davis, who has always maintained his innocence, said through a lawyer Tuesday night he'd take a polygraph test Wednesday if he got some assurance the parole board would take his test into consideration.

"He's not going to spend 3 hours away from his family on what could be the last day of his life if this does not make any difference," Stephen Marsh, one of Davis' lawyers, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Davis supporters have argued Savannah police rushed to judgment after MacPhail's killing, coercing African-American witnesses to testify against Davis, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Davis is black and MacPhail was white.

Supporters held a news conference Tuesday at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, former home of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

"To execute a man with this much doubt does not bode well for any of us -- and, quite frankly, it harkens back to some ugly days in the history of this state," the Times quoted Ebenezer senior pastor the Rev. Raphael Warnock as saying.

"This is Jim Crow in a new era -- there's just too much doubt for this execution to continue," Warnock said.

King's daughter Bernice King appealed to the parole board Saturday to grant clemency to Davis and commute his death sentence.

Davis is set to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. EDT Wednesday, at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison near Jackson.

He did not ask for a special last meal and instead will be offered the prison's meal tray, consisting of grilled cheeseburgers, oven-browned potatoes, baked beans, coleslaw, cookies and a grape drink, the prison said in a statement.

If executed, Davis will be the 29th inmate put to death by lethal injection and the 52nd man executed in Georgia since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Ninety-nine other men and one woman are on Georgia's death row.

Source: UPI