JACKSON, Ga. â€” One of the most controversial death penalty cases in Georgiaâ€™s history ended Wednesday night as the state executed Troy Anthony Davis, a convicted cop killer who adamantly maintained his innocence.
Davis, found guilty of murder in the 1989 shooting of Columbus High graduate Mark A. MacPhail, was pronounced dead at 11:08 p.m.
The waiting game played out from Columbus to the state prison in Jackson where police in riot gear stood guard as Davis supporters gathered.
Early in the day it appeared Davisâ€™ appeals had run out, but then the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the case, delaying the execution that had been set for 7 p.m. Wednesday.
At 10:04 p.m., MacPhailâ€™s mother, Anneliese MacPhail, got a call from the Georgia attorney generalâ€™s office saying the stay was denied, paving the way for the execution.
Twice during the delay, MacPhail was interviewed live by CNNâ€™s Anderson Cooper.
â€œI would like to close this book,â€ she told Cooper. She said the ordeal has been â€œhell.â€
In Jackson, outside Georgiaâ€™s death-row prison, crowds protesting Davisâ€™ execution cheered upon hearing the high court had agreed to review the case. But the upswell in enthusiasm followed tense moments during which at least three protesters across the street from the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison got arrested as the crowd there grew unruly.
After that, an army of corrections officers in riot gear deployed in front of the prison gate. The law enforcement presence later swelled as two convoys of Georgia state patrol cruisers, lights flashing and sirens blaring, pulled up on the north side of Georgia Highway 36 to seal off access to the prison. In the media area separated from the road by a fence, a prison representative told reporters they had five minutes to decide whether to stay in the secured area or leave. If they left, they would not be allowed back in.
Hundreds of protesters massed in a restricted area on the south side of the highway as black-clad officers in helmets and body armor, armed with batons and other riot gear, were arrayed across the prison entrance, as if expecting a charge. More stood with plastic wrist restraints, prepared to make arrests.
The atmosphere grew increasingly tense as Davisâ€™ final appeals appeared to be running out.
The quiet inside the Death House as Davis breathed his last was in stark contrast to a day of protests by Davis supporters around the world who feared the state had sanctioned the killing of an innocent man. Scores of people crowded a field near the prison in the hours leading up to the execution, singing and praying that Davis be spared the lethal injection.
â€œThere are so many Troy Davises out there,â€ said Ellen Kubica, 28, who came all the way from Germany to protest Davisâ€™ execution. â€œThis case has shed a light on all the injustices of the death penalty: its racism, its classism, its bias and everything.â€