Troy Davis was convicted of the August 19, 1989, murder of Georgia police officer Mark MacPhail, who was working as a security guard at a Burger King when he intervened in an argument between several men in a nearby parking lot.
Mark MacPhail was shot in the heart and face without having drawn his gun.
One of the men, Sylvester Coles, went to police and implicated Troy Davis in the killing, and he was arrested four days later.
During Troy Davis’ 1991 trial, many witnesses testified they had seen him shooting MacPhail. Two other witnesses testified that Troy Davis had confessed the murder to them.
The murder weapon was never found, and no physical evidence linked Troy Davis to the crime.
Throughout his trial and subsequent appeals, Troy Davis has maintained his innocence but was sentenced to death in August 1991.
Seven of nine witnesses to the murder changed or recanted their testimony in recent years. Several stated they had felt pressure by police to implicate Troy Davis.
New witnesses implicated Sylvester Coles in the crime.
Many appeals in state and federal courts followed, Troy Davis and his lawyers arguing that the racial composition of the jury and poor advocacy from his lawyers had affected his right to a fair trial.
In an August 2010 decision, the conviction was upheld, with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia declaring that the new evidence cast only ‘minimal doubt on his conviction’. Subsequent appeals, including to the Supreme Court, were rejected.
In July 2007, September 2008, and October 2008, Troy Davis execution dates were scheduled but stayed shortly before the events took place.
Troy Davis is set to be executed by lethal injection on September 21, 2011, at 7:00 pm, as he has lost a bid for clemency launched by his defense lawyers.
In the last day of his life, he declined to order a special last meal. Troy Davis will be served what’s on the menu at the Georgia state prison in Jackson before his execution – grilled cheeseburger, oven-browned potatoes, baked beans, coleslaw, cookies and a grape beverage.