News just broke that Marcellus Williams will not be executed today. Governor Eric Greitens has reportedly stayed the execution and is appointing a Board of Inquiry in the case.
The clock was ticking, and death row inmate Marcellus Williams’ life depended on a last minute decision by the United States Supreme Court, or one phone call from the governor. According to CNN, Williams’ execution for the stabbing death of Felicia Gayle in 1998 was scheduled for today at 7PM (ET), despite new evidence that his lawyers say prove his innocence.
Here are the facts of the case: Williams’ DNA was not found on the knife used to kill Gayle. Hair samples and footprints found at the scene do not belong to Williams. He was convicted in 2001 based on testimony from two convicted felons. His lawyers say that they now know that someone else’s DNA is present on the murder weapon, but the state attorney general’s office issued a statement on Monday that said that “based on the other, non-DNA, evidence in this case, our office is confident in Marcellus Williams’ guilt and plans to move forward.”
The Missouri Supreme Court shot down the attempt by Williams’ lawyers to stay the execution last week and did not give a reason why. CNN reported that waiting until the day of execution to rule is typical for the US Supreme Court, and if they had ruled to move forward with it, the governor would have the final say.
With less than 6 hours left, Govenor Eric Greitens came through and saved Williams from lethal injection, at least for today. The stay of execution does not come with an automatic “Get Out Of Jail Free” card, but it does add hope to a hopeless situation.