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

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On the other side of the debate, the original prosecutor in the Davis case, Spencer Lawton, says Davis's claims of innocence have been "manufactured" to raise sympathy and put public pressure on the courts. "A police officer was murdered," he told a Georgia TV station. "The consequences that derive from that fact can't be happy."

Indeed, doubts about Davis's guilt have been heard by myriad appeals courts and an unusual Supreme Court-ordered hearing in Georgia last year, all of which have come to the same conclusion: New developments notwithstanding, the verdict stands.

"He's never been able to prove his innocence," says Russell Covey, a law professor at Georgia State University, in Atlanta.

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.

"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."

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