ATLANTA — Georgia’s pardon and parole board Tuesday denied clemency to a Savannah man convicted of an off-duty Savannah police officer’s 1989 murder. The denial paves the way for Troy Davis’ execution today despite critics’ concerns that the state may be putting an innocent man to death.

The five-member board did not cite a reason for its decision.

The decision was a relief for the family of Mark MacPhail, who, while working as a security guard, was gunned down as he sought to aid a beating victim .

MacPhail’s widow, Joan MacPhail-Harris, and other relatives contend that the jury was correct in convicting Davis in 1991, and that the death penalty was warranted.

“For someone to ludicrously say that (Davis) was a victim – we are the victims,” MacPhail-Harris said Monday night after addressing the parole board.

But Amnesty International and other groups have argued that Davis, 42, should be spared execution based on new evidence that emerged after his 1991 jury trial, including numerous key witnesses who changed their stories originally implicating him.

Former President Carter and Pope Benedict XVI have expressed similar concerns, as have former Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., and William Sessions, FBI director under presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

“Let this be a case that not only highlights the death penalty but will hopefully be a big part in bringing it to an end,” DeJaun Correia-Davis, 17, Troy Davis’ nephew, told a rally in front of the Georgia Capitol on Tuesday.

Amnesty International said nearly 1 million people have signed a clemency petition.

Later Tuesday, Davis attorney Stephen Marsh said they had asked state prison officials and the pardons board to allow Davis to take a polygraph test.

A prisons spokeswoman said she was unaware of the request, and the pardons board didn’t immediately respond.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.