ATLANTA – After a long day of emotional goodbyes, Troy Davis knelt in his prison cell and began to pray 15 minutes before he was scheduled to die. Then a guard spotted him doing something less expected: He was sleeping.
Documents obtained by The Associated Press provide a glimpse into the last moments of Davis’ life before he was executed Sept. 21 for the murder of an off-duty Savannah officer. At one point, Davis vowed to fast and refused several prison meals, but as the night dragged on he asked for food. And as his 7 p.m. scheduled execution time came and went during a late appeal, guards caught Davis taking an hour-long nap.
Davis’ execution for the murder of Mark MacPhail was the center of an international outcry from supporters who said he was the victim of mistaken identity. Prosecutors and MacPhail’s family said they were certain Davis was guilty and that justice was served.
The documents were obtained through an Open Records request. Prison officials also provided an audio recording and transcript of his last words, which he used to again proclaim his innocence and urge his supporters to “continue to fight this fight.”
Davis was no stranger to execution dates. The state had tried three other times to execute him since 2007 and each time it was delayed. One of the executions was called off less than two hours before Davis was to die. He was notified of the fourth attempt on Sept. 7, and a day later he was asked to make a last meal request. He scrawled a response in big letters: “None. Will Be Fasting!”
But he began quietly making arrangements in case the execution went forward. He sent prison officials the names of dozens of visitors — a list of 28 for each of his final two days. When he accidentally misspelled a name, he scribbled a note to an administrator with a correction, ending it with “God Bless You.” And he sent an undisclosed sum of money from his personal prison account to a relative, describing it only as a “family gift.”
He asked prison officials to allow four of his supporters to watch his lethal injection — attorneys Thomas Ruffin and Jason Ewart, minister Stephen Browning and his friend Gemma Puglisi, an American University professor who advocated on his behalf. He put Puglisi at the top when asked to rank the four, but prison officials rejected her without elaboration.
Davis was no model prisoner, the documents show. A record contained in the file lists five disciplinary violations during his 20 years in prison, including insubordination and failure to follow instructions. In March 2011 he was sanctioned for having a cell phone.
He had few possessions in his death row cell. The state issued him a uniform and clothes, some bedding, a pair of shower shoes, a roll of toilet paper, a container of deodorant, a toothbrush and toothpaste. His personal belongings were limited to a pair of glasses, a pen and a writing pad, two Watchtower magazines and his Bible.
Death watch began at 7 a.m. on Sept. 20, a day he spent meeting with visitors, watching TV and talking to his attorneys. A nurse brought him a fish oil pill and other unspecified medications around 9:20 p.m. and he was asleep within half an hour.
He awoke the next morning and refused his breakfast tray. He stayed in bed until about 7:50 a.m. when he was strip-searched and escorted to the shower. The prison warden met with him a few minutes after he finished shaving, and the first of his 28 visitors came to see him at that morning.
He turned down his lunch at noon and, after the last visitor left about six hours later, refused to eat an early dinner, requesting only the grape drink on the tray. Guards spotted him praying around 6:45, and 15 minutes later, when his execution was scheduled to begin, he was napping. He awoke an hour later, called his attorney for an update and asked the guards to bring in some food. He spent the next few hours on and off the phone with his lawyer awaiting news on his fate.
He probably heard that the Supreme Court denied his request for a last-minute stay shortly before guards came into the room at 10:28. A few minutes later, he was strapped to the gurney and execution witnesses started filing in. It was over at 11:08, when authorities pronounced him dead and cleared the death chamber.