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Despite high-profile support for death row inmateTroy Davis, Ga. board denies clemency

Troy Davis is set to die, Ga. board denies clemency
Troy Anthony Davis, Aug. 22, 1991 AP Photo/The Savannah Morning News

(CBS/WGCL/AP) ATLANTA - Georgia's board of pardons rejected a last-ditch clemency bid from Troy Davis on Tuesday, one day before his scheduled execution, despite support from figures including an ex-president and the pope for the claim that Davis was wrongly convicted of killing a police officer in 1989.

Davis is scheduled to be executed Wednesday at 7 p.m. by injection for killing off-duty Savannah officer Mark MacPhail, who was shot dead while rushing to help a homeless man being attacked.

It is the fourth time in four years that Davis' execution has been scheduled by Georgia officials.

Steve Hayes, spokesman for the Board of Pardons and Paroles, said the panel decided to reject Davis' request for clemency after hearing hours of testimony from his supporters and prosecutors, reports CBS affiliate WGCL.

Hayes also said that Governor Deal could not grant a stay in the case, as the board had the last say.

Davis has captured worldwide attention because of the doubt his supporters have raised over whether he killed MacPhail. Several of the witnesses who helped convict Davis at his 1991 trial have backed off their testimony or recanted. Others who did not testify say another man at the scene admitted to the shooting.

Among those who supported Davis' clemency request were former president Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, and former FBI Director William Sessions.

Amnesty International Executive Director Larry Cox said the case against Davis unraveled years ago.

"It is unconscionable that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied relief to Troy Davis," said Cox. "Allowing a man to be sent to death under an enormous cloud of doubt about his guilt is an outrageous affront to justice."

But McPhail's widow, Joan McPhail-Harris, said her family deserved justice for their loss.

"We have lived this for 22 years," she said. "We know what the truth is and for someone to ludicrously say that (Davis) is a victim. We are victims. Look at us. We've put up with stuff for 22 years and it's time for justice today."

Amnesty International and the NAACP have designated Tuesday as a Day of Protest.

Davis' legal team said in a statement it was "incredibly disappointed" by the board's decision.

"The death penalty should not be exercised where doubt exists about the guilt of the accused. The Board did not follow that standard here," their statement said. "The state's case against Mr. Davis, based largely on discredited eyewitness testimony and an inaccurate ballistsics report, cannot resolve the significant lingering doubts that exist here."

A statement released by the pardons board members to the media said in part, "The Board members have not taken their responsibility lightly and certainly understand the emotions attached to a death penalty case. The Board has considered the totality of the information presented in this case and thoroughly deliberated on it, after which the decision was to deny clemency."

MORE ON CRIMESIDER
September 20, 2011 - Troy Davis is set to die, Ga. board denies clemencySeptember 16, 2011 - Troy Davis in spotlight again as execution nears
June 24, 2010 - Rare Death Row Innocence Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court

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