The lawyer for Troy Davis has described his execution in the US state of Georgia on Wednesday night as a “legal lynching”.
The Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal despite protests at home and abroad, and he was put to death by lethal injection.
The family of Mark MacPhail, the policeman Davis was convicted of killing, had called for his execution. The victim’s son was present, as were journalists who said Davis protested his innocence to the end.
“He said that he was not personally responsible for what happened that night – that he did not have a gun. He said to the family that he was sorry for their loss, but also said that he did not take their son, father, brother. He said to them to dig deeper into this case, to find out the truth,” said Jon Lewis of WSB Radio, one of the witnesses to the execution.
Protests outside the prison dwindled by the time the execution took place.
Davis was on death row for 20 years. There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime and no murder weapon was found. Seven of the witnesses who had testified against him later retracted their evidence, saying they had been coerced by police.
But lawyers failed to overturn the conviction because they could not prove conclusively that he was innocent.
Lawyers for Davis say that in Georgia nearly half those on death row are black, despite making up only 15 per cent of the population.
Also on Wednesday a white supremacist was executed in Texas for the racist murder of a black man.