Oct. 1, 2011 — -- More than 1,000 people attended the funeral service today for Troy Davis, the convicted murderer who was executed in Georgia last week despite emotional pleas for his life.
The funeral, held at Jonesville Baptist Church in Savannah, lasted for about 3.5 hours, and was open to public.
The eulogy was delivered by the Rev. Raphael Warnock of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., who served as a spiritual adviser to Davis on death row.
Warnock said he hopes Davis' funeral will serve as wake-up call on the death penalty, and commended the Davis family for having the service open to the public.
"It's much to the Davis family's credit that they have been willing in the midst of their personal pain to see that we are talking about a larger, national moral crisis," Warnock told the AP Friday.
Other speakers, including NAACP president Benjamin Jealous, also called for the death penalty to be abolished.
"Troy's last words that night were he told us to keep fighting until his name is cleared in Georgia," said Jealous, according to The Associated Press. "But most important, keep fighting until the death penalty is abolished and this can never be done to anyone else."
Friday night, more than 250 gathered for a memorial in the New Life Apostolic Temple in Davis' hometown of Savannah. Those present included Jealous and comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory.
Davis, 42, was executed by lethal injection Sept. 21 for the murder of off-duty Savannah, Ga., policeman Mark MacPhail. The U.S. Supreme Court had denied a last-minute stay of execution, despite widespread public doubts about his guilt.
In the execution chamber, Davis declared his innocence a final time in the 1989 murder as witnesses and relatives of the victim looked on.
"I'd like to address the MacPhail family," Davis said, according to The Associated Press. "Let you know, despite the situation you are in, I'm not the one who personally killed your son, your father, your brother. I am innocent. The incident that happened that night is not my fault. I did not have a gun. All I can ask ... is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth. I ask my family and friends to continue to fight this fight. For those about to take my life, God have mercy on your souls. And may God bless your souls."
Several friends and supporters spoke at the memorial Friday behind Davis' closed casket.
Davis' friend Earl Redman, who said he'd known Davis since age 8, told the crowd Friday that during prison visits Davis would often say that he expected to die in the death chamber.
"He looked me in the eye and he told me, 'Don't let me die in vain. Don't let my name die in vain,'" Redman said, according to the AP.
The Rev. Randy Loney, who often visited Davis in prison, said Friday he had come to realize that "in a lot of ways, we are not Troy Davis," referring to the catchphrase "I am Troy Davis," adopted by Davis' supporters.
"We did not wake up every morning and go to sleep every evening with the specter of the executioner in our eyes," Loney said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.