Davis attorneys say parole board is last hope

Troy Davis
Troy Davis
Mark MacPhail
Mark MacPhail

ATLANTA (WTOC) - Attorneys for Troy Davis are asking for clemency from the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles.

If clemency is granted, Davis would spend the rest of his life in prison. If he is denied clemency, Davis would be executed by lethal injection on Wednesday night, unless Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal grants him a pardon.

Davis was convicted in 1991 of fatally shooting Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail in 1989. He has been on Georgia's death row for 20 years and his lawyers have appealed all the way through the courts. This is the fourth time Davis has been scheduled to be executed.

His attorneys say the board, which can commute sentences, is Davis's last hope. The board allowed Davis's execution to go forward in 2008, but three new members have since joined the board.

Seven of the nine witnesses who testified against Davis have since recanted.

Supporters for Davis gathered before the 9 a.m. hearing Monday. The vigil is set to continue until the board delivers a decision. WTOC is told that about 60 people are outside the building where the hearing is taking place. Members of Davis's family and MacPhail's family are in Atlanta.

In Savannah, about five people have been standing outside the Chatham County Courthouse in support of Davis.

Both Amnesty International and the NAACP have held several events in support of Davis. Last week, there were an estimated 300 rallies, vigils and events held nationwide and worldwide, according to a news release.

Nearly 1 million signatures have been collected in support of Davis – and 200,000 signatures have been collected just in the last 72 hours.

Over the weekend in Savannah, a prayer service at the St. Philip Monumental AME Church. Supporters and representatives from all over Georgia came out for the special service.

"We're just hoping and praying that the Pardons and Parole Board will take another look at this case. If there's 1 ounce of evidence that might free this man and show that he is completely innocent," said Georgia Sen. Gail Davenport, of District 44.

A decision from the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles could come as soon as Monday afternoon or as late as the scheduled execution day.

The board does not have to make a decision based on any past court ruling. They can make a decision based on what is presented to them at Monday's hearing.

Copyright 2011 WTOC. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.