A parole board will rule Monday on the fate of Troy Anthony Davis, who faces execution in Georgia this week for the slaying of an off-duty police officer in 1989. Davis' case has been a focal point for opponents of capital punishment and advocates for civil liberties ever since the majority of the witnesses called in his trial recanted their testimony against him.
Georgia authorities have pressed to put Davis to death, and prosecutors, the slain officer's family, and two key eyewitnesses have maintained Davis' guilt.
Davis' supporters took to the streets this weekend, rallying in Atlanta on Friday to call for a stay of his execution. Among the messages on the signs carried by hundreds of supporters, CNN reported, were "Free Troy Davis," and "Too Much Doubt."
The Atlanta Journal-Inquirer, which first reported that witnesses had recanted their testimony implicating Davis in the murder of Mark Allen MacPhail, has a long history of the case, and a list of the prominent figures who have urged clemency, or at least further investigation before Davis is executed. They include Pope Benedict XVI, former President Jimmy Carter, former FBI Director William Sessions.
“This case is extraordinary because there have been substantial questions of his innocence for almost a decade,” said death-penalty lawyer Stephen Bright, a professor at Yale Law School. “It has attracted attention from all around the world, and the extraordinary number of people supporting him — and the prominence of some of them — is unprecedented.”
Davis has been closer to death before, the Journal-Constitution noted. In 2007, he had already said final goodbyes to visitors when the state Supreme Court issued a stay of his execution.
MacPhail's family is not among those doubting Davis' guilt. In an interview with CNN, MacPhail's mother said the execution of the man convicted of killing her son would bring her "some peace."