Missouri governor halts execution amid DNA exoneration claim

23 August, 2017, 00:40 | Author: Ora Austin
  • Marcellus Williams

In 2015, SCOTUS issued another stay to allow Williams' defense attorneys to run additional DNA testing, which eventually resulted in Monday's discovery.

He was convicted of killing Lisha Gayle, a former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in 1998.

Gayle was brutally murdered in her own home, where she was stabbed 43 times with a butcher's knife, court records show. Previous testing of hairs found on Gayle's shirt and under her fingernails also exclude Williams, and a shoe print at the scene isn't Williams' either.

"It would not have been unreasonable for (Williams) to wear gloves during the burglary and subsequent murder", prosecutors wrote in a court filing, to explain why his DNA was not on the knife.

"A sentence of death is the ultimate, permanent punishment".

Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and other groups are organizing rallies and vigils throughout the state ahead of the scheduled execution.

In the meantime, Greitens' executive order has paused Williams' execution, and organized a Board of Inquiry, which will investigate the evidence and make a recommendation to Greitens as to whether Williams' sentence should be commuted.

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Hours before 48-year-old Marcellus Williams was scheduled for execution by lethal injection, the newly elected Republican governor of Missouri halted the killing and called for the review of new DNA evidence that raises significant doubts about the death row inmate's conviction. "He (is) an innocent man, and that's not right", the younger Williams told CNN.

Governor Eric Greiten has not publicly responded to the request.

"There is evidence that has not been considered by a court", Chapel said, according to Missourinet.

Williams' attorney claims new testing of the knife used to commit the murder found another person's DNA on the weapon but none of Williams.

In a court filing last week, Assistant Attorney General Michael Spillane wrote that Williams took a bus to the St. Louis suburb of University City, Missouri, on August 11, 1998, looking for a house to break into and chose Gayle's. They also rejected the claim that showing "unknown DNA" proved Williams' innocence.

But St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch said there was ample other evidence to convict Williams, and that there was "zero possibility" he was innocent. The onetime St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter surprised the burglar and was killed at her University City home.

"It's just remarkable to me that the attorney general and the other people defending this conviction can say with a straight face that DNA does not trump the evidence that they've submitted", Gipson told KMOV. She left the paper to do volunteer social work with children and the poor.

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