July 17, 2007
Man on Georgia's Death Row Receives a 90-Day Stay of Execution in '89 Death
By BRENDA GOODMAN, New York Times
ATLANTA, July 16 - Hours before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection,
the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday granted a stay of
execution to a man convicted of killing a Savannah police officer in 1989.
The stay will give board members up to 90 days to evaluate and analyze
evidence - including support from eyewitnesses, celebrities and government
officials - that was presented by lawyers for the defendant, Troy A. Davis,
in a clemency hearing.
Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, addressed the board in
person. "I do not know Troy Anthony Davis," Mr. Lewis said. "I do not know
if he is guilty of the charges of which he has been convicted. But I do know
that nobody should be put to death based on the evidence we now have in this
After the ruling, Mr. Davis, 38, spoke to reporters from prison through his
older sister's cellphone.
"I'm elated," he said. "I'm blessed and thankful. I'm one step closer to my
Mr. Davis has been on death row since 1991, when he was convicted of killing
Mark A. MacPhail, an officer working as a security guard at a bus station
who was shot trying to protect a homeless man being beaten for a can of
With no physical evidence against him and no murder weapon, prosecutors
relied heavily on nine eyewitnesses who testified that Mr. Davis had shot
Since his trial, seven of the nine eyewitnesses have recanted, saying they
felt pressure from the police to identify Mr. Davis. Other witnesses have
come forward saying they saw another man commit the crime.
Lawyers for Mr. Davis were buoyed by his stay but were still cautious. "We
scrambled," said Jason Ewart, a lawyer in Washington who is representing Mr.
Davis. "We think we presented our case. This board is in a tough spot. They
are the first to ever truly consider this evidence, and it's a heavy
Mr. Davis's older sister, Martina Correia, 40, of Savannah, said: "We're so
excited. But we still have to fight."
In an interview with The Associated Press, Joan MacPhail, Officer MacPhail's
widow, said she was disappointed by the decision of the board. "I believe
they are setting a precedent for all criminals that it is perfectly fine to
kill a cop and get away with it," Mrs. MacPhail said.
Source : New York Times