Supreme Court Will Not Stop Davis Execution
The United States Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch request to step in late Wednesday to stay the Georgia execution of Troy Davis, who was convicted of gunning down a Savannah police officer 22 years ago, after Mr. Davis filed an eleventh-hour plea Wednesday with the high court.
His execution, by lethal injection, had been set to begin at 7 p.m., but Georgia prison officials waited for the court’s decision late into the evening. It took the court more than four hours to issue its one-sentence order.
For Mr. Davis’s family members, who had gathered on the lawn near the entrance of the prison, unbearably tense moments of waiting dissolved into tears and prayer upon hearing the court’s decision.
“We’re calling on everyone to stay calm,” said Benjamin T. Jealous, president of the N.A.A.C.P.
Mr. Davis’s lawyers had asked the court to examine what they said were “substantial constitutional errors” in the murder trial.
Throughout the evening, police officers in riot gear kept what appeared to be about 500 protesters at bay across the state highway from the prison entrance.
A dozen supporters of the death penalty, including people who knew the family of the slain officer, Mark MacPhail, sat quietly, separated from the Davis family and their supporters by a stretch of lawn and rope barriers.
The appeal to the Supreme Court was one of several last-ditch efforts by Mr. Davis on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, an official of the N.A.A.C.P. said that the vote by the Georgia parole board to deny clemency to Mr. Davis, who is black, was so close that he hoped there might still be a chance to save him from execution.