DNA evidence may exonerate death row inmate whose time is almost up

DNA evidence may exonerate death row inmate whose time is almost up
A man scheduled for an imminent execution in Missouri is innocent, his lawyers say, and they claim to have DNA evidence to back that up. Now it is up to the US Supreme Court to decide whether or not to stall the lethal injection, or allow it to proceed.

Marcellus Williams, 48, was set to be put to death by lethal injection on Tuesday at 6:00pm at the Missouri state prison in Bonne Terre.

Kent Gipson and other unnamed lawyers representing Williams are seeking a commutation of his life sentence or a new hearing in the case. They have also asked Governor Eric Greitens (R) for clemency, according to the Washington Post.

Williams was convicted of stabbing Lisha Gayle, 42, to death during a robbery that occurred on August 11, 1998, in a gated suburban community outside of University City, Missouri. Gayle purportedly found Williams in her home during the robbery, and then Williams killed the woman.

Gayle had been a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter from 1981 to 1992, before she eventually turned to doing social work, the Post reported.

Gipson says DNA testing conducted in December 2016 showed that the DNA on the knife used to kill Gayle, was, in fact, not that of Williams’. Gipson also cited previous DNA evidence showing that hairs found on Gayle’s shirt, fingernails, and footprints at the scene, did not belong to Williams either.

Now, Williams’ attorneys have appealed to the US Supreme Court in order to halt this week’s execution.

The Missouri Supreme Court, which initially agreed to postpone Williams’ execution in order to complete the new DNA tests, has denied requests to look at new evidence presented by the lawyers, according to Missourinet.

Gipson says that the new evidence “means in our mind the actual killer is not him,” according to an interview he did with the Associated Press last week, the Post reported.

Williams’ conviction was based on the testimonies of two convicted felons who had their eyes on a $10,000 reward, Gipson said, the Post reported. One of the testifiers was the inmate’s ex-girlfriend and the other, a former cellmate.

But, Loree Anne Paradise, a spokeswoman for Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, said the office is still confident that Williams is the killer based on other evidence.

Missouri’s NAACP Executive Director Ron Chapel commented on the newly found evidence that suggests Williams is innocent. “What separates Mr. Williams from many others is that he may be a case of actual innocence,” Missourinet reported.

“There is evidence that has not been considered by a court,” Chapel said, according to Missourinet. “Evidence that could prove that he had nothing to do with the murder itself.”

Besides the murder conviction, Williams is also currently serving consecutive terms in prison for robbery and 30 years each for weapon crimes and burglary.