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“I came here last time, in 2008, prepared to comfort his mother, and it ended up that we got a reprieve,” Sharpton said. “I don’t know if we’re going to get a miracle today but I promised Troy I would fight to the end and even beyond, and I’m here to keep my promise.”

As for the new and changed accounts by some witnesses, an unmoved federal judge dismissed them during a hearing set up by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010. He said while the “new evidence casts some additional, minimal doubt on his conviction, it is largely smoke and mirrors.”

It was the first time in 50 years that justices had considered a request to grant a new trial for a death row inmate. It set a tough standard for Davis to exonerate himself, ruling his attorneys must “clearly establish” Davis‘ innocence — a higher bar to meet than prosecutors having to prove guilt.

Once the hearing judge made his ruling, the justices didn’t take up the case.

Prosecutors say they have no doubt they charged the right person, and MacPhail’s family lobbied the pardons board Monday to reject Davis‘ clemency appeal. The board refused to stop the execution a day later.

“He has had ample time to prove his innocence,” said MacPhail’s widow, Joan MacPhail-Harris. “And he is not innocent.”

In Europe, where the planned execution has drawn widespread criticism, politicians and activists were making a last-minute appeal to the state of Georgia to refrain from executing Davis. Amnesty International and other groups planned a protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Paris later Wednesday and Amnesty also called a vigil outside the U.S. Embassy in London.

Parliamentarians and government ministers from the Council of Europe, the continent’s human rights watchdog, called for Davis‘ sentence to be commuted. Renate Wohlwend of the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly said that “to carry out this irrevocable act now would be a terrible mistake which could lead to a tragic injustice.”

Spencer Lawton, the district attorney who secured Davis‘ conviction in 1991, however, said he was embarrassed for the judicial system that the execution has taken so long.

“What we have had is a manufactured appearance of doubt which has taken on the quality of legitimate doubt itself. And all of it is exquisitely unfair,” said Lawton, who retired as Chatham County’s head prosecutor in 2008. “The good news 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.”

The latest motion filed in Butts County Court on Wednesday disputes testimony from a Georgia Bureau of Investigation expert at Davis‘ 1991 trial. It claims his testimony is no longer reliable that shell casings found at the scene of MacPhail’s murder were linked to those found at the scene of another shooting for which Davis was convicted.

It also challenged testimony from Harriet Murray, an eyewitness who at trial identified Davis as the shooter. And it said evidence from another witness, Kevin McQueen, who said Davis confessed the killing to him is “patently false” and unreliable.

Associated Press writer Shannon McCaffrey contributed to this report from Atlanta.