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NAACP rallies for death row inmate Davis

David Williams, President of the Albany-Dougherty Branch of the NAACP, held a rally on the steps of the Dougherty County courthouse Thursday urging clemency and a new trial for convicted cop-killer Troy Davis.

David Williams, President of the Albany-Dougherty Branch of the NAACP, held a rally on the steps of the Dougherty County courthouse Thursday urging clemency and a new trial for convicted cop-killer Troy Davis.

ALBANY — The Albany-Dougherty branch of the NAACP held a rally Thursday on the courthouse steps urging the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole to halt the planned execution of convicted cop killer Troy Davis.

Davis, who has been on Georgia’s death row since 1991 being convicted of killing Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail in 1989, is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Wednesday. This is Davis’ fourth date with the executioner.

“Seven of the nine witnesses used to convict Troy Davis have recanted their testimony and now say they were coerced into giving false statements,” NAACP branch President David Williams said. “We are calling on the state Board of Pardons and Paroles members to do the right thing and grant clemency and a new trial.”

The 42-year-old Davis has a hearing scheduled Monday before the board to plead for clemency and to block his execution.

The NAACP and other advocates for Davis, such as Amnesty International, contend that an overwhelming amount of evidence points to Davis’ innocence. The group also points out that former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI; Nobel winner Desmond Tutu; former presidential candidate and prosecutor Bob Barr; U.S. Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson, and others have called for a new trial for Davis and have spoken up against his execution.

His execution has been delayed three times since 2007 to allow courts more time to review his arguments. Each time judges have reviewed his case, the conviction and death sentence have been upheld.

That includes a rare review by the federal courts. During two days of testimony in June 2010, U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. heard from two witnesses who said they falsely incriminated Davis and two others who said another man had confessed to being MacPhail’s killer in the years since Davis’ trial.

Moore said the evidence cast some additional doubt on Davis’ conviction, but that it was “largely smoke and mirrors” and not enough to vindicate Davis or grant him a new trial.

Davis has exhausted all his appeals.

“We are asking the state of Georgia to play by the rules,” Williams said at the Albany rally. “We are asking for justice for Troy Davis.”

Advocacy groups delivered boxes full of petitions Thursday urging the Georgia pardons board to grant clemency. Amnesty International, the NAACP and other groups dropped off petitions signed by more than 660,000 people in support of Troy Davis.

Davis’ supporters also plan candlelight vigils and a Friday night march to pressure the board.

MacPhail was working a late-night shift as a security guard on Aug. 19, 1989, when he saw a homeless man who had been pistol-whipped at a nearby Burger King parking lot. He rushed to help.

Moments after MacPhail approached Davis and two other men, he was shot in the face and the chest. He died before help arrived.

Witnesses identified Davis as the shooter and shell casings were linked to an earlier shooting Davis was convicted of. There was no other physical evidence. No blood or DNA tied Davis to the crime, the weapon was never located and several witnesses who testified at his 1991 trial have disputed all or parts of their testimony.

Some of MacPhail’s family members blame the advocacy groups for drumming up the worldwide interest.

“I just think they should stay away. They don’t know the case, they’re just running their mouths,” said Anneliese MacPhail, the slain officer’s mother. “It’s none of their business. They don’t know all the circumstances.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.