US Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of Death Row Inmate

Posted September 21st, 2011 at 10:48 pm (UTC-5)
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The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a last-minute appeal by the lawyers of death row inmate Troy Davis, clearing the way for his execution.

Davis had been set to be executed by lethal injection at 7 p.m. local time in Georgia for the 1989 shooting death of a police officer. But the Supreme Court put a temporary hold on the execution just minutes before the it was to take place, saying it would review the evidence of the case.

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.

His 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.

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 have signed petitions to stop Davis' execution.

Supporters have set up a vigil across the street from the Georgia prison where Davis is being held. Activists are holding 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.”