Marcellus Williams was found guilty of the 1998 murder of a former post-dispatch reporter and sentenced to the death penalty. The execution was scheduled to be held at 7 pm on Tuesday, August 22. However, upon the emergence of new DNA evidence, Governor Eric Greitens has moved to stay the execution.
“A sentence of death is the ultimate, permanent punishment. To carry out the death penalty, the people of Missouri must have confidence in the judgment of guilt,” explained Greitens.
Williams’ lawyers recently uncovered that the knife used to murder the victim, 42-year-old Felicia Gayle, had the fingerprints of another unidentified man. Along with this, the footsteps left at the crime-scene are a different shoe size than Williams’. After bringing this to light and writing to the Supreme Court of the overwhelming evidence countering the original decision, lawyers are now pushing to exonerate Williams of all charges.
LL Cool J and Russell Simmons joined the conversation, urging participants to sign a petition and call the governor to impede the execution. The two DefJam veterans took to Twitter to spread awareness.
The group that convicted Williams consisted of eleven white jurors and one black juror although the town was predominantly black. Missouri Supreme Court previously requested additional testing back in 2015, connoting there was a fault in evidence. The same court denied his bid for a hearing last week.