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 11:08pm ET after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeal.
“The U.S. justice system was shaken to its core as Georgia executed a person who may well be innocent,” Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International, said.
“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.”
The Supreme Court had no comment on the order, which it made about four hours after Davis’ attorneys had filed the motion.
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 application for a certificate of probable cause to appeal is denied. The motion for stay of execution is denied,” read a unanimous ruling from Georgia’s Supreme Court, upholding a lower court’s earlier decision.
Judge Thomas Wilson declined to halt the execution, saying the county court had received no new evidence “that was not previously available.”
“This court therefore denies (the) petitioner’s motion for stay of his execution,” Wilson wrote.
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.
“I am utterly shocked and disappointed at the failure of our justice system at all levels to correct a miscarriage of justice,” Brian Kammer, an attorney for Davis, said following the decision.
No murder weapon was ever found, no DNA evidence or fingerprints tie Davis to the crime, and some witnesses have since said the murder was committed by another man — a witness who testified against Davis.
The five-member Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles earlier refused on Wednesday to reconsider its clemency decision and turned down a request to allow Davis to take a lie detector test to show his innocence.
Legal experts had said it was almost certain Davis would be put to death as scheduled at 7:00 pm (2300 GMT) at a prison near Jackson, Georgia.
With prior reporting by Stephen C. Webster and AFP