Missouri governor stays execution amid new DNA evidence

Marcellus Williams faces execution despite new evidence

Marcellus Williams, 48, was convicted of fatally stabbing a woman more than 40 times during a robbery at her home in the Midwestern state of Missouri.

In an editorial titled, "The death penalty debate hits close to home this time", the Post-Dispatch remembered Gayle and said she would not have favored the execution. Other personal items of Gayle's were found in a vehicle that Williams drove on the day of the crime. DNA testing of the murder weapon, conducted in 2016, was inconclusive.

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

"Based on the other, non-DNA, evidence in this case, our office is confident in Marcellus Williams' guilt and plans to move forward", Loree Anne Paradise of the Missouri Attorney General's office said in a statement.

Nevertheless, Greitens issued a stay in light of the new evidence and appointed a board of inquiry to consider the case and recommend that the state either go through with the execution or commute Williams' sentence.

Gov. Greitens will appoint the members of the board.

A small group of protesters who traveled to the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City from Kansas City wrote the governor a thank-you note on the spot after learning Tuesday that Greitens is issuing a stay of execution for Marcellus Williams.




"This motion is just another last-ditch effort to somehow muddy the water and try to claim that some innocent man might be executed", McCulloch said.

St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch, famous for his failure to indict the police officer who killed 18-year-old Ferguson resident Michael Brown, however, says there is "zero possibility" that Williams is innocent of the fatal stabbing. They have also asked Governor Eric Greitens (R) for clemency, according to the Washington Post. Williams' lawyers and the state of Missouri are in the process of appealing that ruling before U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who is responsible for such appeals from Missouri.

Lawyers say DNA on the knife belongs to an unknown male, according to findings using technology that wasn't available at the time of trial.

Hair samples and fingernails found at the crime scene don't match Williams' DNA either, said Greg Hampikian, a forensic DNA expert hired by defense lawyers, and footprints at the scene didn't match his shoes, defense attorney Larry Komp said.

"It certainly would give most reasonable people pause to say, 'Should you be executing somebody when you've got reasonable evidence suggesting another man did it?' " attorney Kent Gipson said Tuesday. However, Williams' lawyers argue that the witnesses were actually angling for the $10,000 reward offered by Gayle's family in return for information leading to the murderer.

In addition to the murder conviction, Williams is also serving consecutive life terms for robbery, and 30 years each for burglary and weapons crimes. "She'd left the newspaper in 1992 to do full-time volunteer work".

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