*Marcellus Williams, a Missouri man convicted of murder, will not be executed tonight (Aug 22) after Gov. Eric Greitens issued a stay of execution and appointed a board to review newly-surfaced DNA evidence in the case.
“A sentence of death is the ultimate, permanent punishment,” Greitens said in a statement. “To carry out the death penalty, the people of Missouri must have confidence in the judgment of guilt. In light of new information, I am appointing a Board of Inquiry in this case.”
Missourit was scheduled to execute the 48-year-old at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday, even as his lawyers maintained that new DNA evidence proves his innocence.
Williams was convicted in the death of Felicia Gayle, 42, a former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper who was stabbed 43 times inside her home in August 1998. The newly acquired evidence shows Williams’ DNA was not found on the murder weapon, Williams’ lawyers say, though DNA from another male was found. That evidence was not available when Williams went to trial in 2001, court documents say.
Lawyers for Williams asked the US Supreme Court to stop the execution and examine the new evidence. A brief filed Monday night with Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch said the appeal is not based on witness recantation.
“In this case, there is conclusive scientific evidence that another man committed the crime,” the brief written by defense lawyer Kent Gipson said.
Williams had always maintained his innocence and said he was convicted on the testimony of individuals who were, themselves, convicted felons.
His attorneys have now appealed Williams case to the Supreme Court to either get a new hearing taking into account the DNA evidence or a commutation of his life sentence.