Troy Anthony Davis, who was controversially convicted of the killing of an off-duty police officer, was executed by lethal injection at a state prison in Georgia at 11:08 p.m. Eastern Time after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeal.
Davis, 42, was convicted of murdering Georgia police officer Mark MacPhail in 1989. Since his conviction, seven of the nine people who testified against him have recanted or changed their testimonies.
No murder weapon was ever found, no DNA evidence or fingerprints tied Davis to the crime, and some witnesses have since said the murder was committed by another man, a witness who testified against Davis.
Moments before his execution in a prison near Jackson, Georgia, Davis stated that he was innocent and told the family of the fallen officer to keep digging for the truth. He also said "God bless your souls" to the state employees who put him to death minutes later.
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Davis had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop Georgia authorities from executing him in an eleventh-hour plea after the Georgia's Supreme Court upheld his execution. The U.S. Supreme Court had no comment on the order, after the justices deliberated on it for about four hours.
His execution generated an enormous amount of controversy on both sides of the capital punishment debate, including pleas from the UN to stop the lethal injection. Rachel Maddow reported on MSNBC that Georgia authorities used pentobarbital, a barbituate used to euthanize animals, to execute Davis. The chemical is reportedly not approved for human use.
Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International, said: "The U.S. justice system was shaken to its core as Georgia executed a person who may well be innocent. Killing a man under this enormous cloud of doubt is horrific and amounts to a catastrophic failure of the justice system. While many courts examined this case, the march to the death chamber only slowed, but never stopped. Justice may be blind; but in this case, the justice system was blind to the facts."