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Troy Davis execution nears: What options remain for a reprieve?

Troy Davis is facing his fourth execution date Wednesday at 7 p.m. Attempts to delay the execution continue, with critics saying Georgia has not listened to doubts about Davis's guilt.

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Driving much of the concern around the Davis execution, critics say, is that the imperative to get the verdict right seems to have fallen victim to expediency and false certainty.

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"To prioritize the sentiment of, 'enough is enough, we've got to move forward now,' over the risk of executing somebody who did not commit the crime is just a very questionable way of going forward," says James Acker, a criminologist at State University of New York at Albany.

Prosecutors and family members have rejected such claims. "He has had ample time to prove his innocence," Joan MacPhail-Harris, the slain officer's widow, told reporters. "And he is not innocent."

Davis's lawyers filed a last-ditch lawsuit Wednesday that disputes a key piece of ballistics evidence in the case and challenges eyewitness testimony — similar arguments to those which the pardons board rejected Tuesday.

That lawsuit sets the stage for more appeals through the day, potentially up to the US Supreme Court. Meanwhile, a more plausible relief could come from the executive branch, either from Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal or President Obama.

The NAACP said Wednesday it planned to ask Obama to intervene.

Supporters have also begged prison officials at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson to stage a walk out or strike in order to stop the execution.

If the execution goes forward as planned, it's likely to fuel simmering anger especially among liberals and African-American activists who see Davis's looming execution as evidence of racial injustice, given that Davis was black and his victim was white. Critics say police coerced black witnesses to make spurious statements to corroborate detectives' belief that Davis pulled the trigger.

"If you execute someone under these circumstances, you're going to leave people with outrage and anger directed at the government," says Barket, the Long Island attorney. "While we all have to respect the process, the process has to yield results that are seen as just and fair. " Otherwise, he adds, "it borders on tyranny."

Mr. Lawton, the prosecutor in the case, disagreed. "The good news," he said in a television interview, "is we live in a civilized society where questions like this are decided based on fact in open and transparent courts of law, and not on street corners."

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