Mother waits for peace in son's murder

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COLUMBUS, Ga. --- A cigarette smolders in Anneliese MacPhail's ashtray, and she looks at it mournfully. Although she's tried to quit smoking so many times since her son was shot dead 20 years ago, she lights up again with every twist in the case against his convicted killer.

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Anneliese MacPhail, 75, stands outside her home in Columbus, Ga., on Wednesday, 20 years to the day her son Mark was gunned down while trying to help a homeless man who was attacked. Troy Davis was sentenced to die for murder, but his execution has been delayed three times.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Anneliese MacPhail, 75, stands outside her home in Columbus, Ga., on Wednesday, 20 years to the day her son Mark was gunned down while trying to help a homeless man who was attacked. Troy Davis was sentenced to die for murder, but his execution has been delayed three times.

"My nerves are shot," she said Wednesday, sitting in the kitchen where she watched her son grow up. "I can't believe it was 20 years ago today. I've been reliving every minute of it. I just keep seeing his face."

Mark MacPhail, a Savannah police officer, was shot to death in 1989 while working off-duty after he rushed to the aid of a homeless man who had been attacked. A jury sentenced Troy Davis to die for the murder two years later, but the case has been in the legal world's version of purgatory since then.

Anneliese MacPhail, meanwhile, has been someplace worse. "It's hell," she says.

The case has become a national flashpoint for death penalty critics who argue Mr. Davis is the victim of mistaken identity. His attorneys have managed to delay his execution three times, and this week the Supreme Court ordered a new hearing that gives Mr. Davis the chance to present evidence his lawyers say could exonerate him.

They say they'll show that several witnesses at Mr. Davis' trial have since recanted, and others who did not testify have said another man confessed to the killing.

"Our witnesses are strong," says Jason Ewart, one of Mr. Davis' attorneys. "They'll come to court and tell their story."

Mr. Davis has been buoyed by appeals from high-profile officials to stop his execution. Among them: former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI and a group of 27 former federal prosecutors and judges that includes former FBI Director William Sessions.

Prosecutors insist the case is closed and they stand by the verdict. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in a sharply worded dissent to the court's ruling, noted that federal and state courts have vetted the case and repeatedly thrown out Mr. Davis' appeal. Justice Scalia called Mr. Davis' appeal a "sure loser."

Mrs. MacPhail, frustrated by the litany of delays, is quick to agree.

"Angry is not even the word. Disgusted is not even the word," she said. "The jury convicted him. I have no doubt it was Troy Davis."

She still lives in the tidy brick ranch on the outskirts of Columbus where she moved after her husband, a career soldier, died of a heart attack at the age of 43. She was left to raise Mark and his four siblings -- all 18 or younger -- on her own.

Mark joined the Army Rangers, but after he got married, he decided he wanted a more stable lifestyle. He moved to Savannah and joined the police force, but would often make the cross-state journey to spend time with his mother.

One visit stands out in her memory: It was the summer of 1989. Mark, growing serious, asked if she thought his father would be proud of him, even though he left the military. Of course, came Mrs. MacPhail's response. That was the last time she ever saw him.

Her mind flits forward to the 1991 trial and the frustrating delays that followed.

"He should have been dead two years ago," she says, her voice trembling. "Every delay is awful for us every time. I'm not saying Davis' family isn't suffering either. But Davis had a choice. Mark didn't."

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cajunnana2000
2
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cajunnana2000 08/20/09 - 02:06 am
0
0
I am sorry for her and her

I am sorry for her and her son, but I do not believe an innocent person should die just to give her peace. Pray to God and he will give you peace.

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 08/20/09 - 06:08 am
0
0
How in the hell do you know
Unpublished

How in the hell do you know this guy is innocent? Those that recant should be held accountable and investigated to find
out why they have changed their minds about the person they
identified in court. It sounds very suspicious that these lawyers
have come up with new evidence without paying someone to
change their story. It shouldn't have taken 20 years to figure out that they lied about who they seen. As for Jimmy Carter,
who cares what he thinks!

justus4
103
Points
justus4 08/20/09 - 07:10 am
0
0
An example of the all-white
Unpublished

An example of the all-white media and how to "spin" a story. Thousands of minority citizens dead during the Civil Right Movement and NEVER a story about how the judical system is failing them. Never a story about the jury makeup and how Klan members actually sat on the jury. Never a story about the police being in bed with the Klan and evidence destroyed, but an minority innocent man wrongfully convicted, and this woman don't comprehend that the judical system failed her too. Thats by design. The police are constantly dishonest about evidence, especially in the south, especially on matters of race. Knowing just those facts put any conviction in question, but having all the witnesses recant their stories is extremely unusual-even in the south. This woman is a victim. Thats why doing the right thing benefits everyone, especially those seeking justice. And that idiot Scalia should be removed from the Court for his statement about executing an innocent man. What he really meant was a "man of color" could be wrongfully executed according to the Constitution, because he, along with Uncle Thomas, cares nothing about a minority's life. That comment exposed his true belief.

REDRIDER
134
Points
REDRIDER 08/20/09 - 08:06 am
0
0
Hey Its 2009 wake up!

Hey Its 2009 wake up!

tired of the crap
0
Points
tired of the crap 08/20/09 - 08:40 am
0
0
oops here we go again

oops here we go again playing and winning with the race thing . do you want some cheese with that?

olafjohnson
0
Points
olafjohnson 08/20/09 - 08:46 am
0
0
Davis, the [filtered word]should have

Davis, the [filtered word]should have gone in a hole 18 years ago--at the time he was sentenced to death!

KingJames
10
Points
KingJames 08/20/09 - 10:01 am
0
0
If there is any doubt that

If there is any doubt that Davis actually killed MacPhail, then he should get a new trial. Mrs. MacPhail wants her son's killer to die, but she doesn't seem to understand that it will do her no good, especially if it is proven that Davis really is innocent. I truly believe she is consumed by grief that has morphed into hatred of a potentially innocent man. She is waiting for Davis to die. If he is executed, then what? She will never have her son back, and there really isn't any closure for a situation like this. I feel sorry for her because it appears that she is obsessed with waiting for a man to die, even if it's the wrong man! If so many people are now coming forward with the truth without regard to legal ramifications for themselves, then that may mean Davis is innocent, and they don't want another innocent person to die. I truly feel sorry for both the Davis and MacPhail families.

genbartow
0
Points
genbartow 08/20/09 - 11:52 am
0
0
Davis is not innocent. he

Davis is not innocent. he faced his accusers in court and 12 people on a bi racial jury unanamously agreed that he was guilty.
Davis has never played the "inadeguate defense" card, or even the race card.
It would be impossible to try a case like this again, with so many eye witnesses that have moved on into illness and death.
Davis was also convicted of shooting another man earlier that day.
He would probably be dead by now if he had not been in prison.

KingJames
10
Points
KingJames 08/20/09 - 12:15 pm
0
0
Genbartow, do you think

Genbartow, do you think Davis' guilt or innocence, or his execution or continued living will bring Mrs. MacPhail peace? I don't think so. Waiting for something as awful as death for someone else can't be psychologically healthy for her. What I do know for sure is that if the state, and even the Supreme Court have doubts then they should retry the case. Refusing to do so, and then finding out someone else killed MacPhail after Davis' execution would make the state guilty of murdering an innocent man. If there is any doubt, then it should be addressed. If you were wrongfully accused and convicted of something, wouldn't you want an attorney to fight for you?

1trugent
0
Points
1trugent 08/20/09 - 12:51 pm
0
0
No. He's not innocent. He

No. He's not innocent. He was there participating in the beating of the homeless man. Witnesses don't deny that, so don't think one minute he's innocent. In fact, if he hadn't been there in the first place particpating in the low life cowardly act, maybe we wouldn't be having this discussion. Maybe they should just release him from prison, with all the black on black crime happening in all the cities, his chance of being killed is much greater than our justice system.

Lorraine
140
Points
Lorraine 08/20/09 - 01:28 pm
0
0
KingJames thanks for your

KingJames thanks for your well thought out comments about this case. There are many that will cry out that Mr. Davis is guilty just to see another minority be put to death without being given a fair trial. It is a known fact that individuals have been put to death that were indeed not guilty. I am glad that people like 1trugent do not have the final say so about matters such as this case.

GnipGnop1
2
Points
GnipGnop1 08/20/09 - 01:37 pm
0
0
So either the jury is all

So either the jury is all white, anytime a black is convicted, or it's full of uncle toms. Wow all this time I thought whites and blacks both committed crimes. It was only the whites cause all black people are innocent and railroaded by the man according to the great one justus.

LCC0256
634
Points
LCC0256 08/20/09 - 02:37 pm
0
0
there needs to be an

there needs to be an investigation by competent authorities (if you can find them) regarding these recanted statements...just for all of your information one of the most successful tactics on appeal of a criminal case involving eye witnesses is to impeach the integrity or allow time to fade memory. Eye witness cases are also the most suspect IF THAT IS ALL the evidence there was...(which is not stated in the article) possibly other evidence exists...at any rate this man should be given all chances to prove his innocence if he is ...as for that mealy mouthed traitor jimmy (the disgrace) carter...if he thinks the man is innocent its a million to one he is DEAD GUILTY...

KingJames
10
Points
KingJames 08/20/09 - 03:14 pm
0
0
Who cares if the man is black

Who cares if the man is black or white? That doesn't matter. He says he's innocent. Witnesses say he's innocent. Also, some people do have limits. Paticipation in a petty crime makes one a criminal, but doesn't necessarily mean one is capable of murder. When it comes down to it, the state should be more civilized than any other entity in matters of life and death. Just because someone has been found guilty doesn't mean they are guilty. I don't know if Davis killed MacPhail or not. But I do know that I want the state to be absolutely sure it is executing the right man. There is no harm in that. Everyone pushing for this execution will actually gain nothing by it. There would still be no peace of mind, not even any satisfaction in knowing Davis was dead. The nightmare for everyone would intensify tremendously if Davis was executed and then proven innocent. If Mrs. MacPhail is frustated now, how would she feel then knowing she was hating and waiting for death for the wrong man? The state needs to be 100% sure before it executes Davis.

Barf Obama
0
Points
Barf Obama 08/20/09 - 06:04 pm
0
0
Lie for Davis

Lie for Davis

cajunnana2000
2
Points
cajunnana2000 08/21/09 - 01:29 am
0
0
This is so sad, no one here

This is so sad, no one here knows for sure if he did it. And even those that say he did,can you face God and say he did it? I did not know the race of the man and it dosent matter, I just hate to see the mother,having her heart set on this one may and nobody knows who did it.

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