Missouri set to execute inmate despite new DNA evidence

Elias Hubbard
August 22, 2017

She was stabbed to death inside her University City home in 1998.

"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.

The execution of Marcellus Williams is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET, but lawyers for the death row inmate have asked the US Supreme Court to stop the execution and examine the new evidence. It would be second execution carried out under Missouri Governor Eric Greitens.

Williams' attorneys contend that testing conducted in December using techniques that weren't available at the time of the killing showed that DNA found on the knife matches an unknown man, but not Williams.

"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".

Williams got picked up about three weeks after Gayle was killed on unrelated charges.

The Missouri Supreme Court on August 15 turned down defense lawyers' bid to have the execution stopped and didn't provide a reason, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 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. Although the case against against Williams lacked forensic evidence, the testimony of Williams' girlfriend and a former cellmate were enough to convince a jury of his guilt. High profile anti-death penalty advocates like Amnesty International and Sister Helen Prejean, a Roman Catholic nun whose story was featured in the movie Dead Man Walking, have lobbied for Williams to be granted clemency.

Prosecutors dismissed the DNA evidence, saying "it would be unsurprising" that other people's DNA would be on the kitchen knife used for the murder. Al Jazeera reports that Asaro had testified that scratches found on Williams' neck were caused by Gayle, presumably as she struggled to defend herself. Defense lawyer Komp told CNN his client is taking events calmly in advance of the planned legal injection. Williams has always said he was innocent.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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