Despite tens of thousands of protests across the country and in London and France, and despite overwhelming doubt about the evidence presented in the case, the state of Georgia executed Troy Anthony Davis late Wednesday night.
This was Davis’ fourth execution date, and it looked like he might be spared again. A premature celebration broke out shortly after 7 p.m., the initial execution time, and many supporters and news media outlets mistakenly thought he was granted a stay of execution. Soon, however, the mood changed, and worry set in yet again when the crowd learned he was granted a temporary reprieve so that the Supreme Court could review the evidence. Four hours later, the high court declined to intervene and Davis was put to death.
Many have pointed to Davis’ case as a possible turning point in the fight to end the death penalty. Currently, 16 states have abolished capital punishment, and according to Ben Jealous, President of the NAACP, if 10 additional states get rid of the death penalty they can petition the federal government to prohibit capital punishment all together.
Before he died, Davis again proclaimed his innocence. According to local reporters, Davis looked directly at the family of Mark MacPhail and said he “did not kill your son, father, brother.” Davis also implored his supporters to continue to dig deeper into case and work to end the death penalty.
Troy Anthony Davis was pronounced dead at 11:08 p.m.
Despite what side of the death penalty debate you fall on one thing is clear: Nothing is gained by executing the wrong man. And in Troy Davis’ case, the amount of doubt present should have spared his life.