US Death Row Inmate Put to Death

Posted September 21st, 2011 at 11:30 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. death row inmate Troy Davis, who was convicted for the 1989 shooting death of a police officer, was put to death late Wednesday in the southern state of Georgia, after the Supreme Court rejected a last minute appeal to stay his execution.

Davis died by lethal injection just after 11 p.m. local time as hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside to declare his innocence.

His lawyers had filed a last-ditch appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court just minutes before the execution was originally scheduled to take place. The court put a temporary hold on the execution, but rejected the appeal without comment three hours later.

The case has drawn international attention for having no physical evidence linking him to the crime. Seven of the nine witnesses who helped convict Davis have retracted or recanted their testimony.

Amnesty International immediately criticized Davis' execution, calling it a “catastrophic failure of the justice system.”

Davis' legal team unsuccessfully tried several other last-ditch measures Wednesday, including offering for the 42-year-old to take a polygraph test to prove his innocence. Prison officials turned them down.

Davis' lawyers also appealed unsuccessfully Wednesday to President Obama to stop the exeuction. White House spokesman said it was “not appropriate” for the president to weigh in on specific cases.

Pope Benedict, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a former FBI director and conservative Georgia politicians are among those who have questioned Davis' guilt and advocated on his behalf. Thousands of people around the world have rallied in recent days, and millions of people signed petitions to stop Davis' execution.

Supporters have set up a vigil across the street from the Georgia prison where Davis was being held. Activists held rallies in several cities across the United States and outside many U.S. embassies in Europe. On Twitter, the phrase “Who is Troy Davis?” is trending worldwide, with people answering the question with phrases like “A man who does NOT deserve to die.”

On Tuesday, the Georgia parole board rejected a final appeal from Davis, a move legal experts are saying was likely his last chance at life.

Amnesty International released a statement Tuesday saying Davis' execution under an “enormous cloud of doubt about his guilt is an outrageous affront to justice.” Amnesty Executive Director Larry Cox called the decision “unconscionable.”

The family of slain police officer Mark MacPhail stands by the court's ruling that Davis is guilty. MacPhail's widow says Davis has had “ample time to prove his innocence.”