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Troy Davis executed in Georgia

Troy Davis was due to be executed this morning in Savannah, Georgia for the alleged killing of an off-duty police officer in 1989. But evidence, witnesses and appeals all indicate that Davis is innocent of the crime he has been convicted for.

Throughout the morning, Crikey has been liveblogging the situation, where a last-minute decision by the US Supreme Court saw a delay in execution, just minutes before Davis was too be killed by lethal injection. After several hours of examining the appeal, the Supreme Court refused to block the execution …

1.25pm update

Media representatives who witnessed the execution have just made public statements, explaining that it was a sombre event, but Troy Davis remained defiant until the very end and maintained his innocence.

One journalist explained that Davis spoke to the family of the victim and said despite the situation, he was not the one who killed Mark Macphail. Davis said he was not personally responsible for what happened that night, that he did not have a gun but that he was sorry for their loss

I did not personally kill your son, father and brother. I am innocent,” said Davis.

Just before he was killed by officials, he turned to them and said: “For those who are about to take my life, may god have mercy on your souls, may god bless your souls”.

1.15pm update

Prison officials in Georgia have just announced that Troy Davis has been executed. His official time of death was 11.08pm ET.

1.00pm update

The execution of Troy Davis has apparently begun.

12.45pm update

The execution is proceeding, with a lethal injection due to be given to Davis within the next half hour. Latest news indicates that there were no dissents within the Supreme Court Justices in their decision to refuse to block the execution.

Hala Gorani from the CNN tweeted: “Georgia Dept of Corrections tells CNN #troydavis execution set to begin at 1105pm or 1110pm EST.”

A statement will come from the prison officials once the execution has happened. All death certificates of people killed by capital punishment lists the cause of death as “homicide”.

We’re calling on everyone to stay calm,” said Benjamin Jealous, the head of civil rights organisation NAACP. For hours police presence has been increasing around the prison in Georgia where protesters have been awaiting news.

We are drained here. People are crying quietly. This is an atrocity,” tweeted professor and historian Jelani Cobb from outside the prison.

12.20pm update

The Supreme Court has just refused to stay the execution of Troy Davis, says Democracy Now. This has been confirmed by Associated Press. This means he is still to be executed.

According to Kim Severson of The New York Times, the execution is expected to go ahead tonight. She tweeted a photo of family and supporters shortly after they received the news:

12.15pm

Kim Severson from The New York Times latest tweet explains the current difficulty for people at the prison:

Wish I had news to report. TV reporters nodding off. #TroyDavis family and the handful of MacPhail supporters looking so strained.”

Many of Davis’ supporters appear to have left the protest outside the prison where he’s being held:

The number of Davis supporters outside the prison has dwindled from hundreds to about 50, who appear to be outnumbered by armed security in riot gear.”

12.10pm update

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (a news publication from Georgia) recently tweeted:

AP alert: Supreme Court has not yet ruled on request for stay of execution for #TroyDavis. No indication when ruling is expected.”

Journalist Amy Goodman from Democracy Now, who seems to be one of the only broadcast journalists continuously covering the case today, is doing a stellar job of continuing to broadcast although her show was supposed to finish hours ago. Her hands are full of ripped up pieces of paper and her mobile phone battery is flat, but she continues to do interviews with members of Troy Davis’ family, friends and supporters.

Many are now getting frustrated with the wait. Kim Severson from The New York Times tweets: ”Protestors quiet. Police quiet. #TroyDavis family quiet. Heat, wait and emotional exhaustion taking its toll.”

Big Boi, the rapper from OutKast who is a high profile protestor outside the prison, recently tweeted:

I don’t see how they wore hard bottoms all day in the civil rights movement, I got on Nike ACG boots and my feet are killin me”

Severson’s article on the planned execution at the NY Times has recently been updated and has an interesting look at what’s been happening tonight:

For Mr. Davis’s family, who were gathered on the lawn near the entrance of the prison, about an hour’s drive south of Atlanta, the almost unbearably tense moments of prayers and tears that came as the clock moved to the execution hour turned to screams of joy when word came that the Supreme Court was reviewing the petition.

No one knew what it meant, however. And another round of waiting began for more news from the Supreme Court.

This delay, however temporary, is a miracle itself,” said Benjamin T. Jealous, the N.A.A.C.P. president.

Family members and officials from Amnesty International and the N.A.A.C.P. stood anxiously checking their cellphones for updates.

11.10am update

As we wait to hear whether the US Supreme Court has decided to grant a stay of execution in the Troy Davis case, Andrew Cohen, a legal journalist from CBS Radio, tweeted:

If Scotus [Supreme Court of the United States] stays #TroyDavis execution tonight, it would be third in less than one week, virtually unparalleled in history of death penalty.”

To understand how many police cars have recently arrived outside the prison facility in Georgia, check out this video posted by rapper Big Boi from Outkast:

Just to clarify what we know:

  • Troy Davis was due to be executed at 7pm Eastern Time (9am Melbourne time) after being convicted of the murder of an off duty policer officer in 1989. But evidence, witnesses and appeals all indicate that Davis is innocent.
  • After having the Georgia parole board and the Georgia Supreme Court dismiss Davis’ appeals against his death row execution earlier this week, a last minute decision by the US Supreme Court saw a delay in execution, with a reprieve given of between one and seven days. This is not an official stay of execution, but instead gives the Supreme Court a chance to review the case. This came just minutes before Davis was due to be killed.
  • The Supreme Court was supposed to announce its decision at 8.30pm ET (10.30am AEST) but so far no announcement has been made.
  • This is the fourth time that Davis has faced his execution, with a number of appeals and Supreme Court decisions over the years.
  • 150 friends, family and supporters are protesting in a special area just outside the Georgia diagnostic and classification prison in Jackson, Georgia, the maximum number allowed by authorities. Hundreds more supporters are across the road of the prison.
  • Police cars and helicopters have swarmed outside the prison, with lines of riot police set up and waiting. Supporters of Troy Davis have been peaceful, with a candlelight vigil and regular group prayers.
  • There are currently 108 people on death row in Georgia.

11.00am update

Ben Jealous, head of the NAACP, gathered the supporters of Troy Davis around him outside the Georgia prison to pray as they await more news.

People are tweeting photos of the swarms of police cars, which continue to arrive, with lines of what looks like riot police set up. Worrying and confusing since the US Supreme Court hasn’t yet.

Kim Severson from the New York Times tweets:

Family is being prepared for news, said Larry Cox of Amnesty International. #TroyDavis. No word on what that news will be.”

10.45am update

It’s now after 8.30pm ET, but still no word from the US Supreme Court…

Martina Correia, the sister of Troy Davis, is a former military nurse in the Gulf War. She’s currently being interviewed by Democracy Nowand was asked about the increased police presence and the helicopters (unsure if police or news helicopters) which have suddenly appeared overheard:

I think it’s a show of intimidation… Last time we were at this point, there were even dogs — German Sheperds — walking amongst us… you can see the police from several counties throughout the state, and the riot gear. And it’s amazing that because we support Troy Davis, we’re the bad guys… That’s the Old South, but it’s time for the New South.”

Actress and activist Mia Farrow tweeted:

Reportedly Troy Davis is on gurney w UV inserted in his arm, in execution chamber awaiting Supreme Court decision. #MentalTorture”

10.30am update

Big Boi from Outkast tweeted a picture from outside the prison, saying that the police presence has doubled:

10.25am update

A huge amount of police vehicles have just arrived at the intersection into the prison. Not sure if it is a protest or something has happened, says Democracy Now.

Barack Obama will not be getting involved in the Troy Davis case, reports Savannah Now:

Less than half-hour before Davis’ scheduled execution Wednesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney issued a statement saying that Obama has long worked to ensure accuracy and fairness in the criminal justice system especially in capital cases. But Carney said it would not be appropriate for the president of the United States to weigh in on specific cases like this one, which is a state prosecution.

10:15am update

CBS journalist Andrew Cohen tweets an explanation of what’s happening at the Supreme Court

At Scotus, the justices got #TroyDavis paperwork after 6p ET. They are smart. But they are not speed-readers. Probably accounts for delay.”

What’s happened. Justice Thomas (11th Circuit justice) got #TroyDavis appeal and sent it to his 8 colleagues. They are now discussing.”

Twice before, in 2008 and 2009, #Scotus stayed a #TroyDavis execution. In ‘09 it ordered new evidentiary hearing.”

The #Scotus stay of #TroyDavis execution in ‘09 generated 2010 hearing in Ga. federal court where judge again said no reason to overturn.”

#Scotus discussion now likely to focus upon that 2010 #TroyDavis hearing and whether justices felt it was fair under 1996 federal law.”

Tonight marks 4th time Troy Davis has had execution date. Still possible that #Scotus will allow his execution. Death warrant still valid.”

The Huffington Post’s new Supreme Court reporter Mike Sacks also explains what a delay can mean:

The Court’s delay can mean several things:

The justices are waiting on a petition for a writ of certiorari to arrive;

The justices are still deliberating;

A justice or justices are currently incommunicado and can’t be reached for a vote;

A justice or justices have decided to write a separate opinion accompanying the stay order.”

Interesting eyewitness reports from New York Times reporter Kim Severson on Twitter outside the prison in Georgia:

Protestors across the street from prison drumming, chanting. #TroyDavis family, Amnesty, NAACP constantly checking cell phones.”

Everyone out here surviving on water and nerves. One TV crew thought to bring sandwiches. #ihatetv”

Says an ATL woman waiting with Davis family: ‘I’m rejoiceful he’s still alive but I’m hollow inside.’”

10.00am update

The Supreme Court decision is expected to come through at 8.30pm ET (10:30am AEST)

Michael van Poppel tweeted:

BREAKING — Mother of MacPhail told the US Supreme Court will decide by 8.30 p.m., reports WTVM-TV”

9.50am update

Troy Davis has been given a seven day reprieve from the Supreme Court. But this doesn’t mean he’s been given clemency, only that his death has been delayed, reports ABC News:

The Supreme Court could decide at any time tonight or in the next seven days whether to go through with his execution, according to local TV station 11Alive.”

A reprieve means to simply delay the imending punishment, it’s not an official stay of execution.

Meanwhile, another man on death row, Lawrence Russell Brewer, was just killed in Texas. Brewer was a white supremacist who murdered James Byrd, Jr in 1993.

9.30am update

Just to clarify, Troy Davis was scheduled to be executed nearly half an hour ago. The US Supreme Court has apparently granted a delay in the case but no official stay of execution.

New York Times reporter Kim Severson recently tweeted a quote from Benjamin Jealous, who has been key in fighting for Davis’s freedom:

This delay however temporary is a miracle itself.” Benjamin Jealous, NAACP head.

Reverend Raphael Warnock just said outside the Georgia prison “this case is deeply rooted in race bias and class bias” to Democracy Now.

9.25am update

Amnesty International UK tweeted:

Our latest reports are that there’s a delay, not a stay of execution. #TroyDavis #TooMuchDoubt”

Apparently Davis is currently strapped to the table ready to be executed as this is all unfolding.

9.20am update:

Democracy Now tweeted:

BREAKING NEWS: #TroyDavis lawyer tells @BenJealous of @NAACP that Troy has not been executed, nor can confirm a stay of execution.

9.15am update

With minutes to go before he is to be executed, the US Supreme Court has apparently issued a stay of execution, according to the Huffington Post. But no official confirmation yet.

9.00am Troy Davis is due to be executed today in Savannah, Georgia for the alleged killing of an off-duty police officer. Problem is, it seems highly likely he is innocent.

Since 1991, Troy Davis has been on death row after being convicted of shooting security guard Mark MacPhail, who went to the aid of a homeless man being bashed by a group of men, including Davis.

The New York Times editorial was damning this morning, as it explained the evidence of the case:

The Georgia pardon and parole board’s refusal to grant him clemency is appalling in light of developments after his conviction: reports about police misconduct, the recantation of testimony by a string of eyewitnesses and reports from other witnesses that another person had confessed to the crime …

… The grievous errors in the Davis case were numerous, and many arose out of eyewitness identification. The Savannah police contaminated the memories of four witnesses by re-enacting the crime with them present so that their individual perceptions were turned into a group one. The police showed some of the witnesses Mr. Davis’s photograph even before the lineup. His lineup picture was set apart by a different background. The lineup was also administered by a police officer involved in the investigation, increasing the potential for influencing the witnesses.

Seven of nine witnesses against Mr. Davis recanted after trial. Six said the police threatened them if they did not identify Mr. Davis. The man who first told the police that Mr. Davis was the shooter later confessed to the crime. There are other reasons to doubt Mr. Davis’s guilt: There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime introduced at trial, and new ballistics evidence broke the link between him and a previous shooting that provided the motive for his conviction.”

Now Davis is due to be executed at 9.00am AEST by lethal injection, despite last dash attempts at a reprieve. An all-day hearing by the parole board on Monday denied his clemency. It also denied a call for a lie detector test. The Georgia Supreme Court also refused to stop the execution.

But there may still be time with officials expressing doubt over his guilt, writes Kim Severson in the New York Times, with reports an official from the NAACP said they have “very reliable information from the board members directly that the board was split 3 to 2 on whether to grant clemency”.

Davis has just filed an eleventh hour plea with the US Supreme Court.

It’s not the only time Davis has got close to execution. Reports Severson:

The state parole board granted him a stay in 2007 as he was preparing for his final hours, saying the execution should not proceed unless its members ‘are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused’. The board has since added three new members.

In 2008, his execution was about 90 minutes away when the Supreme Court stepped in. Although the court kept Mr. Davis from execution, it later declined to hear the case.”

Davis has got supporters in high places. Bob Barr, former Republican Congressman, US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia and self-declared “longtime supporter of the death penalty”, wrote an article in Savannah Now arguing against the execution.

… imposing an irreversible sentence of death on the skimpiest of evidence will not serve the interest of justice. By granting clemency, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles will adhere to the most sacred principles of American jurisprudence, and will keep a man from being executed when we cannot be assured of his guilt.”

The Davis case reflects many of the larger issues within capital punishment, notes Amy Davidson in the New Yorker:

The Davis case is an extreme illustration of the many oddities — some would call them grotesqueries, and others procedural obstacles — associated with the death penalty in America today. A case can work itself through court after court, for year after year, mostly out of sight for all but the people closest to it or most devoted to the issue, until suddenly there are headlines about last meals and desperate appeals. Even when guilt is not in question, there are other issues: mental competence, poor representation, the exegesis of mitigating and exacerbating factors — more bets. Then there is the strange regimen of the killing itself.”

Supporters of Davis continue to protest across the US, including outside his prison in Georgia:

Davis’ supporters include the well-known, such as the Rev. Al Sharpton, who was outside the prison in Jackson, home to Georgia’s death row, where about 100 people had already gathered by midday for a rally. More protestors came as day turned to night.”

And outside the White House:

Dozens of protesters, including many from historically black Howard University, gathered outside the White House in hopes of last-minute intervention from President Barack Obama to stop the scheduled execution of Troy Davis in Georgia.

They held signs that read, ‘Save Troy Davis’ and ‘We Are Troy Davis, I Am Troy Davis’. They paused for a moment of silence, lifting their fists in the air, sang, and cheered as fellow protesters were arrested.”

But there’s not much time left.

5
  • 1
    Zarathrusta
    Posted Thursday, 22 September 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Is anyone surprised that this is happening in the USA?

    Obahma is a gutless disappointment and his presidency is on the rocks because of his general gutlessness.

  • 2
    EKDV
    Posted Thursday, 22 September 2011 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    @Zarathrusta

    No, no-one is surprised this is happening this is happening in the USA. But given that Troy Davis was convicted and sentenced in 1991 makes blaming Obama for this a bit of a non-sequiteur.

  • 3
    That Chatfield Fellow
    Posted Thursday, 22 September 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Who’s “Obahma”?

  • 4
    Stevo the Working Twistie
    Posted Thursday, 22 September 2011 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Barbaric, medieval, inhuman. American.

  • 5
    zut alors
    Posted Thursday, 22 September 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m just trying to recall what that Commandment says about killing…

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