UPDATE: 3:20 P.M. 8/22/17
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has issued a formal stay in the execution of Marcellus Williams, 48, after his lawyers presented DNA evidence which could prove his innocence.
According to the AP, Greitens announced the decision in an e-mail. Williams was formally convicted was convicted in 2001 of murdering Lisha Gayle, a former journalist with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. After conducting a DNA test, Williams’ lawyers discovered evidence that linked another person to the murder weapon.
Greitens will assemble a five-member board made up of retired judges to review the case and provide a recommendation on whether Williams should be executed. No timetable has been set, the outlet reports.
On Tuesday, the state of Missouri is planning on moving forward with the execution of 48-year-old Marcellus Williams, even though his lawyers have evidence which they claim could prove Williams’ innocence.
Williams is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at 7 p.m. ET, but on Monday his lawyers filed a brief with Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, asking for a reprieve to review the new evidence. According to Williams’ lawyers, his DNA doesn’t exist on the murder weapon; DNA from another male was found. When Williams was convicted in 2001, the evidence was not available.
“There is no physical evidence, no eyewitnesses that directly connect Williams to the murder, the DNA on the weapon wasn’t his, the bloody footprint at the murder scene wasn’t from Williams’ shoe and was a different size, and the hair fibres found weren’t his,” Gipson in an interview with Al Jazeera.
Gipson points to a variety of factors in Williams’ conviction, including race, faulty witnesses and Williams’ socio-economic status.
Williams was picked up by police three weeks after Gayle’s death on an unrelated charge. Court documents show police found some of her personal belongings in his car. Authorities also recovered a laptop Williams sold, which belonged to the victim’s husband.
While Williams was in jail for the unrelated charge, his cellmate, Henry Cole, and Laura Asaro, Williams’ former girlfriend, testified that Williams separately confessed to committing the murder. Gipson believes Cole and Asaro were prompted to give false statments by a $10,000 reward that Gayle’s family offered in exchange for information leading to her death.
“At the time, we didn’t have the technology to do these DNA tests. But even now that there is indisputable scientific evidence exonerating Williams from the murder, the attorney general still thinks these testimonies hold more weight than the DNA evidence that shows Williams didn’t commit this crime,” Gipson said to Al Jazeera.
William’s son, Marcellus Williams II, maintains his father’s innocence and states that his father has remained relatively calm in the face of death.
“Someone murdered that woman, but it wasn’t my father,” he said to CNN. “I wish they would find the right suspect and charge them to the fullest extent of the law.”