Inmate to die tonight

Few options left for supporters; NAACP seeks Obama's help

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ATLANTA — With legal appeals exhausted and clemency denied, death-penalty opponents are pinning their hopes on long-shot ways to stop Troy Davis’ execution. Among their prospects to stop the execution are a strike by prison workers, a change of heart by a prosecutor, and judicial or presidential involvement.

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Troy Davis was denied clemency by the Board of Pardons and Paroles.  Anonymous
Troy Davis was denied clemency by the Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Davis lost his most realistic chance to avoid lethal injection Tuesday, when Georgia’s pardons board rejected his appeal for clemency. His execution is scheduled for 7 p.m. today.

State and federal courts repeatedly upheld his conviction for the 1989 murder of off-duty police officer in Savannah. Davis’ attorneys say he was convicted based on flawed testimony that has been largely recanted by witnesses.

As Davis’ attorneys considered filing another appeal, his supporters planned vigils and rallies around the world. Nearly 1 million signed a petition seeking clemency, according to Amnesty International.

Though all the last-ditch measures are unlikely, a presidential appeal to the parole board is the one avenue that has worked before. The NAACP is lobbying to get President Obama involved.

“The president is the president,” said Edward Dubose, the president of the NAACP’s Georgia chapter. “If he chose to intervene, he could.”

Though the president has no formal authority over state courts or state prisons, he could exercise his moral authority, said Donald E. Wilkes Jr., a professor at the University of Georgia law school. Previous presidents have been persuasive when they’ve asked governors to spare the life of an inmate, but Georgia’s governors don’t have that power.

The power of clemency rests solely with the Board of Pardons and Paroles, whose five members are appointed by the governor, making them politically immune to presidential arm-twisting.

“I don’t think it would be politically wise for him (Obama) to do it,” Wilkes said. “And there’s not much likelihood they would comply since they don’t have to.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked about the case Monday, but his vague answer suggested nothing is happening behind the scenes.

“As you know, the president has written that he believes the death penalty does little to deter crime but that some crimes merit the ultimate punishment,” Carney said. “Some of you may also recall that when the president was in the Illinois State Senate this was an issue where he worked across the aisle to find common ground.”

Carney said he hasn’t spoken to Obama about the Davis case.

Because Davis has lost all of his federal appeals, there are little legal grounds left.

Davis supporters are calling on Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm to block the execution, but the prosecutor said Tuesday that he’s powerless to stop an execution order issued by a state Superior Court judge.

Senate Democratic Whip Vincent Fort, of Atlanta, and Sara Totonchi, the executive director of the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights, called for a mass prison strike. That isn’t likely to prevent the execution because few workers are needed for one.

“Each and every one of you are human beings with the power to refuse and resist participation in an immoral execution of a man who may be innocent,” Fort and Totonchi said in a statement.

The Department of Corrections declined to comment, but the Attorney General’s Office listed sections in state law making it illegal for state employees to strike.

On Tuesday, Davis was spending his last quiet hours with friends, family and supporters, said Wende Gozan Brown, an Amnesty International staffer who visited him.

“He said he’s in good spirits, he’s prayerful and he’s at peace. But he said he will not stop fighting until he’s taken his last breath,” she said.

Associated Press reports were used in this article.


See a database with information about the Georgia inmates currently on death row at

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IsAnyoneAlwaysRight 09/21/11 - 06:14 am
Mr Wilkes do you think Obama

Mr Wilkes do you think Obama would make Troy Davis pay his fair share of taxes before he would give him clemency! Your the scholarly type.

In all seriousness, my thoughts and prayers are with the police officer, the victim's family, the Davis family and Mr. Davis. I have not followed the details of this case, so I will not offer an opinion.

Its just a horrible and sad situation.

shrimp for breakfast
shrimp for breakfast 09/21/11 - 06:29 am
I don't know what's right or

I don't know what's right or wrong. I just realized I have no say so in the matter. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. I'd say there's a 99.9 percent chance he will die today.

swinter05 09/21/11 - 09:59 am
the most ridiculous and funny

the most ridiculous and funny statement in this article?? "Though the president has no formal authority over state courts or state prisons, he could exercise his moral authority" that was a good one.

PghSteelersFan 09/21/11 - 01:15 pm
I hope the Pardon and Paroles

I hope the Pardon and Paroles Board sleeps well tonight. They have decided to turn a blind eye to actual testimony from the trial. One 'professional' is shown as saying something to the effect that "Black People kill more than White People because it's an inherited gene". That is basic race discrimination at its worst. Also, Witnesses have 'recanted' their testimony over the years. If they still think the man is so guilty why not just commute the sentence to 'life'?

I was raised in Augusta I went to Richmond in the sixties where all the classes were 'sexigated'. Boys in one class and girls in another just because Black students were beginning to attend.

Race has always been an issue in Georgia. The 'war' ended in 1865. Granted 'Reconstruction' was a period that shouldn't have happened but it did, now that's over too. It's time to stop being a racist, open or closeted.

This is the 21st Century not the 19th. It is time to look forward as a group known as 'human beings'. Not as White, Black, Brown, or Yellow people. All humans are built the same way. There is no particular group that is really 'better' than another.

I carry my Southern roots with pride, I have lived in a number of Cities across this nation over the years and still am asked where I come from because of my accent, but I feel that when a person can 'jump into their pant's' then they are better than me, until then they pull those pants on one leg at a time like everyone else.

If the sentence is carried through tonight, then it is obvious that some in Georgia still want to 'have dominion over another' and that is a shame.

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