Protesters gather outside the building where Georgia Board of Pardons… (David Tulis / AP Photo )
Georgia's pardons board rejected Tuesday a last-ditch plea for clemency from death row inmate Troy Davis despite high-profile support for his claim that he was wrongly convicted of killing a police officer in 1989.
Davis is set to die on Wednesday for the killing of off-duty Savannah officer Mark MacPhail, who was slain while rushing to help a homeless man being attacked. It is the fourth time in four years his execution has been scheduled by Georgia officials.
Steve Hayes, spokesman for the Board of Pardons and Paroles, said the panel decided to rejected Davis' request for clemency after hearing hours of testimony from his supporters and prosecutors.
The decision appeared to leave Davis with little chance of avoiding the execution date. Defense attorney Jason Ewart has said that the pardons board was likely Davis' last option.
Davis' lawyers have long argued Davis was a victim of mistaken identity. But prosecutors say they have no doubt that they charged the right person with the crime.
MacPhail's relatives said they were relieved by the decision. "That's what we wanted, and that's what we got," said Anneliese MacPhail, the victim's mother. "We wanted to get it over with, and for him to get his punishment."
"Justice was finally served for my father," said Mark MacPhail Jr., who was an infant when his father was gunned down. "The truth was finally heard."
Kim Davis, the inmate's sister, declined immediate comment on the decision.
Amnesty International USA director Larry Cox said in a statement that the decision was "unconscionable."
"Should Troy Davis be executed, Georgia may well have executed an innocent man and in so doing discredited the justice system," Cox said.