ATLANTA — Hundreds of thousands of people are rallying behind Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis – not just because they oppose capital punishment but because they believe the state could put an innocent man to death.
The case is fraught with drama: The murder of an off-duty police officer. Conflicting eyewitness testimony. Last-minute court decisions sparing a condemned man’s life and global dignitaries who say they fear an innocent man could die.
Davis has captured considerable attention because of the doubt raised over whether he killed Mark MacPhail in Savannah in 1989. The U.S. Supreme Court even granted Davis a hearing to prove his innocence, the first time it had done so for a death row inmate in at least 50 years, but he couldn’t convince a judge to grant him a new trial.
The officer’s family believes there’s no doubt that Davis killed MacPhail and prosecutors say the right man was convicted.
Davis is scheduled to die Wednesday, the fourth time his execution has been set in four years. He once came within two hours of being put to death. His attorneys say his legal appeals are exhausted.
Still, supporters hope to convince Georgia’s pardons board next week to spare his life.
Executing Davis “risks taking the life of an innocent man and would be a grave miscarriage of justice,” said former President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat from Georgia and death penalty opponent who wrote a letter on Davis’ behalf.
Conservative figures have also become involved. Former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, who served under President George W. Bush, urged the pardons board to grant Davis clemency because “it is clear now that the doubts plaguing his case can never be adequately addressed.” And former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr said in a letter that “even for death penalty supporters such as myself, the level of doubt inherent in this case is troubling.”