Stay of Execution Granted for Troy Davis; Victim's Family Speaks - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

07/16/07

Stay of Execution Granted for Troy Davis; Victim's Family Speaks

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Mark Allen MacPhail, Jr., spoke to the media on behalf of the family. Mark Allen MacPhail, Jr., spoke to the media on behalf of the family.
A clemency hearing before the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles. A clemency hearing before the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles.
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"Today is about many, many unwanted memories of bygone years," 18-year-old Mark Allen MacPhail, Jr., told the media today.

This after the state Board of Pardons and Paroles decided to stay the execution of man convicted of killing his father, Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail, in 1989.

Following the decision, Mark played the part family spokesman on today's proceedings, with his uncle by his side.

The state Board of Pardons and Paroles granted a 90-day stay of execution for Troy Davis, who was to be executed Tuesday for killing Officer MacPhail.

Davis had faced a lethal injection tomorrow before the decision by the board after less than an hour of deliberation.

The stay means the execution will be on hold while the board weighs the evidence presented as part of the 38-year-old Davis' request for clemency.

Officer MacPhail was shot while working off duty at a Burger King on Oglethorpe Avenue. In 1991, Troy Anthony Davis was convicted and sentenced to death for MacPhail's murder.

Sixteen years later and all of his appeals exhausted, the fate of Troy Davis came down to today. A clemency hearing before the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles ended with a 90-stay of execution order.

Lawyers for Davis spent more than five hours today pleading with the board to grant a reprieve, arguing that Davis is innocent of the murder of Officer MacPhail. "They want to get to the bottom of this," Scheree Lipscomb told WTOC Monday morning. Lipscomb has been with Pardon and Paroles for 17 years.

At 9am, attorneys, friends and family members began what could have been their last attempt at saving Davis' life. "They are trying to save a man's life so his attorneys are doing anything they can do to save his life," Lipscomb said. "I think the board is trying to get to the end of this, asking questions and talking to the witnesses who recanted their testimony to find out what is really going on. They will take the time, and the board doesn't mind because it is a man's life on the line."

At 2pm, the hearing was still underway, becoming the longest clemency hearing Lipscomb has seen. The first phase of the clemency hearing wrapped up just before 3pm. Attorneys for Davis, along with witnesses and family members testified on Davis' behalf.

Prosecutors were given a chance during the closed-door hearing to rebut the request for clemency for Davis, who was to be executed tomorrow at 7pm.

The Chatham County district attorney Spencer Lawton and former police chief David Gellatly also testified in the second half of the clemency hearing. Among those present were the victim's widow and mother. They have argued that Davis received a fair trial and has had plenty of appeals, all of which have failed.

The board's options today included granting clemency, denying clemency, or granting a stay of his execution while it considers the issues.

Also today, Davis' lawyers filed an appeal before the state Supreme Court of an earlier decision by a Chatham County judge to deny a stay of Davis' execution.

Mark, Jr., was only a few months old when Officer MacPhail was murdered.

"The pain never really  seems to go away and it's been hard," he said.

He says testifying along with his mother and grandmother caused an overwhelming flow of emotion. "Just how it was like living without a father and how it felt having him ripped away from you at such an early age."

Sixteen years of appeals later, Troy Davis' family won't give up trying to prove his innocence. When asked if he understood their conviction, Mark responded, "Not entirely," adding that the outcome of the case depends on "God's will. Whatever He wants."

WTOC will continue to follow this story as it develops.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com