Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Death of Troy Davis sparks furore: 'They call it execution, we call it murder'

By Guy Adams in Jackson

Strapped to a gurney, and at the centre of raging international controversy, Troy Davis died the way he has spent the past 22 years: still vigorously protesting his innocence.

The death row prisoner at the centre of one of the most disputed cases in US legal history lost his long-running legal battle despite desperate late efforts by his lawyers.

The 42-year-old convicted murderer was given a lethal injection half an hour after the US Supreme Court rejected his final request for a stay of execution on Tuesday. Fifteen minutes later, at 11.08pm (4.08am GMT), he was officially pronounced dead. A coroner's van later took his body away from the Georgia State Diagnostic Prison, near the town of Jackson.

Addressing some of his last words to the family of the victim, Mark MacPhail, who were in the viewing gallery, Davis lifted his head as needles were inserted into his arm, and insisted, as he always has done, that he was not responsible for killing the young, off-duty police officer.

"I am innocent. The incident that happened that night was not my fault," he said. "I was not the one who took the life of your father, son, brother."

Davis then turned to prison officials. "For those about to take my life, may God have mercy on your souls. May God bless your souls."

Those were his final words. As the lethal drugs worked their way into his system, Mr Davis began blinking rapidly. Then he squeezed his eyes shut.

It was a grisly end to a case that has sparked international outrage and the condemnation of organisations as varied as the European Union, Amnesty International and the Catholic Church.

A crowd of 700 supporters had gathered at Georgia State Diagnostic Prison, where the execution chamber is located. They greeted confirmation of his death by crying, holding hands and praying in near silence. A smaller group of roughly 10 counter-protesters cheered.

Lawyers for Mr Davis spent the final day of his life making increasingly frantic efforts to call a halt to proceedings. The Georgia Superior Court and Georgia Supreme Court both refused to issue a stay of execution, which had been previously scheduled and then cancelled four times in recent years, in circumstances said by psychologists to have amounted to torture.

For a time, it looked like the US Supreme Court might intervene. The highest court in the land delayed his execution for four hours. But it ultimately decided not to make an intervention.

A final message to supporters of Davis came from Edward Dubose, who spoke to the condemned man. "Troy wanted me to let you know -- keep the faith. The fight is bigger than him. The death penalty in this country needs to end. They call it execution; we call it murder."


Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph