Troy Anthony Davis (October 9, 1968September 21, 2011)〔〔 was an American man convicted of and executed for the August 19, 1989, murder of police officer Mark MacPhail in Savannah, Georgia. MacPhail was working as a security guard at a Burger King restaurant when he intervened to defend a man being assaulted in a nearby parking lot. During Davis's 1991 trial, seven witnesses testified they had seen Davis shoot MacPhail, and two others testified Davis had confessed the murder to them. There were 34 witnesses who testified for the prosecution, and six others for the defense, including Davis. Although the murder weapon was not recovered, ballistic evidence presented at trial linked bullets recovered at or near the scene to those at another shooting in which Davis was also charged. He was convicted of murder and various lesser charges, including the earlier shooting, and was sentenced to death in August 1991.
Davis maintained his innocence up to his execution. In the 20 years between his conviction and execution, Davis and his defenders secured support from the public, celebrities, and human rights groups. Amnesty International and other groups such as National Association for the Advancement of Colored People took up Davis's cause. Prominent politicians and leaders, including former President Jimmy Carter, Rev. Al Sharpton, Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former U.S. Congressman from Georgia and presidential candidate Bob Barr, and former FBI Director and judge William S. Sessions called upon the courts to grant Davis a new trial or evidentiary hearing. In July 2007, September 2008, and October 2008, execution dates were scheduled, but each execution was stayed shortly before it was to take place.
In 2009, the Supreme Court of the United States ordered the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia to consider whether new evidence "that could not have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes () innocence." The evidentiary hearing was held in June 2010. The defense presented affidavits from seven of the nine trial witnesses whose original testimony had identified Davis as the murderer, but who it contended had changed or recanted their previous testimony. Some of these writings disavowed parts of prior testimony, or implicated Sylvester "Redd" Coles, who Davis contended was the actual triggerman. The state presented witnesses, including the police investigators and original prosecutors, who described a careful investigation of the crime, without any coercion. Davis did not call some of the witnesses who had supposedly recanted, despite their presence in the courthouse; accordingly their affidavits were given little weight by the judge. Evidence that Coles had confessed to the killing was excluded as hearsay because Coles was not subpoenaed by the defense to rebut it.
In an August 2010 decision, the conviction was upheld. The court described defense efforts to upset the conviction as "largely smoke and mirrors"〔 and found that several of the proffered affidavits were not recantations at all. Subsequent appeals, including to the Supreme Court, were rejected, and a fourth execution date was set for September 21, 2011. Nearly one million people signed petitions urging the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant clemency.〔 The Board denied clemency〔 and, on September 21, it refused to reconsider its decision.〔 After a last minute appeal to the United States Supreme Court was denied, the sentence was carried out through lethal injection on September 21, 2011.〔
==Events of August 18–23, 1989==
The charges against Troy Davis arose from the shooting of Michael Cooper, the beating of Larry Young and the murder of Officer Mark MacPhail on August 18–19, 1989.
On the evening of August 18, 1989, Davis attended a pool party in the Cloverdale neighborhood of Savannah, Georgia. As he left the party with his friend Daryl Collins, the occupants of a passing car yelled obscenities. A bullet was fired at the passing car〔 and Michael Cooper, a passenger, was struck in the jaw.〔 Davis and Collins then went to a pool hall on Oglethorpe Avenue in the Yamacraw Village section of Savannah.〔
Later that evening, Davis and Collins proceeded to the parking lot of a Burger King restaurant on Oglethorpe Avenue, not far from the pool hall.〔 There they encountered Sylvester "Redd" Coles arguing with a homeless man, Larry Young, over alcohol.〔〔
At about 1:15 am on August 19, 1989, Mark MacPhail, an off-duty police officer who was working as a security guard at the Burger King, attempted to intervene in the pistol-whipping of Young at the parking lot.〔 MacPhail was shot twice: once through the heart and once in the face. He did not draw his gun.〔〔〔〔 Bullets and shell casings which were determined to have come from a .38-caliber pistol were retrieved from the crime scene. Witnesses to the shooting agreed that a man in a white shirt had struck Young and then shot MacPhail.〔
On August 19, Coles told Savannah Police he had seen Davis with a .38-caliber pistol, and that Davis had assaulted Young.〔〔 The same evening, Davis drove to Atlanta with his sister.〔〔 In the early morning of August 20, 1989, Savannah Police searched the Davis home and seized a pair of Davis's shorts, found in a clothes dryer and reportedly stained with blood.〔 Davis's family began negotiating with police, motivated by concerns about his safety; local drug dealers were making death threats because the police dragnet seeking Davis had disrupted their business.〔〔 On August 23, 1989, Davis returned to Savannah, surrendered himself to police and was charged with MacPhail's murder.〔
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