This week, a Georgia man set to be executed for the murder of a police officer was given a stay of execution the day before he was scheduled to die. Troy Davis, a 38-year-old man from Atlanta, Georgia, was convicted of the 1989 shooting and killing Mark MacPhail, a Savannah police officer. His stay of execution may last up to 90 days as his lawyers argued that several witnesses had recanted or changed their testimony at a recent hearing as a result of initial police pressure which led to inaccurate testimony.

On Monday, Davis’ lawyers pled for a reprieve along with friends, relatives, and five of the witnesses who testified at the trial. Prosecutors disagree with his decision and believe that Davis has had a fair trial with a number of appeals. The board will now review the new evidence to determine whether or not to rule in favor or against Davis’ request for clemency. They have until October 14 to make their decision.

The MacPhail family is upset by the court’s decision to postpone the execution. MacPhail’s son, Mark MacPhail Jr. was one of those who testified against Davis by explaining what it was like to grow up without a father, being not even two months old when his father died. The incident took place on August 19, 1989 in a Burger King parking lot. The 27-year-old MacPhail worked off-duty as a bus station security guard who rushed across the street to help a homeless man who had been assaulted. Davis, who received his death sentence in 1991, was a former coach in the Savannah Police Athletic League who signed up for the Marines. He has been unsuccessful in overturning his conviction due to a cut by the federal government state defender organizations’ funding as well as by the passage of the AEDPA. This stay of execution is Davis’ biggest break, allowing his lawyers to help gather more evidence to eventually get his sentence reduced to possible life in prison.

For related articles visit http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/law/07/16/davis.execution.ap/index.html and http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1643971,00.html.

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