Missouri governor issues stay of execution in light of DNA evidence

Claudine Rigal
Août 23, 2017

The governor of Missouri halted an execution of a convicted murderer on Tuesday, the same day the prisoner was expected to die by lethal injection, in light of new DNA evidence.

"A sentence of death is the ultimate, permanent punishment", Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said in a statement.

CNN reported that 48-year-old Marcellus Williams' attorneys revealed that DNA evidence, which was unavailable during his 2001 trial, will prove his innocence.

Greitens says he will appoint a five-member board of inquiry to recommend whether Williams should be executed.

Loree Anne Paradise, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Josh Hawley, said the office remains confident that Williams is guilty based on other evidence in the case.

In addition to the murder conviction, Williams is also serving consecutive terms of life in prison for robbery, and 30 years each for burglary and weapons crimes.

Attorney Kent Gipson contends that DNA testing conducted in December using techniques that were not available at the time of the killing showed DNA found on the knife matches an unknown man, but not Williams. "It was someone else that killed Gayle, not Williams". Greitens chose to grant the stay of execution due to newly discovered DNA evidence, which Williams claims proves his innocence. "While many Americans hold different views on the death penalty, there is an overwhelming consensus that those sentenced to death should be given due process and a full hearing on all their claims before an execution, and the governor's action honors that principle".

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