ST. LOUIS -- (KTVI) -- Missouri planned to put a 48-year-old man to death Tuesday, after lawyers say new DNA evidence proves his innocence.
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has issued a stay of execution. He is appointing a Gubernatorial Board of Inquiry in the case.
“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. In light of new information, I am appointing a Board of Inquiry in this case,” said Governor Greitens.
The five members of the Board of Inquiry to be appointed by Governor Greitens will include retired Missouri judges. The Board shall have subpoena power over persons and things, pursuant to state law. At the close of its work, the Board will report and make a recommendation to the Governor as to whether or not Williams should be executed or his sentence of death commuted.
Crime Watch Daily spoke to an associate with the law firm of Kent E. Gipson LLC, who confirmed the stay of execution Tuesday.
The execution of Marcellus Williams had been 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.
A brief filed Monday night with Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch said the appeal is not based on witness recantation.
“In this case, there is conclusive scientific evidence that another man committed the crime,” the brief written by defense lawyer Kent Gipson said.
But the Missouri Attorney General's Office argues the execution should be carried out because the DNA evidence doesn't overcome non-DNA evidence that connects Williams to the crime.
Williams was convicted in the death of Felicia Gayle, 42, a former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper who was stabbed 43 times inside her home in August 1998.
The newly acquired evidence shows Williams' DNA was not found on the murder weapon, Williams' lawyers say, though DNA from another male was found.
That evidence was not available when Williams went to trial in 2001, court documents say. Williams maintains his innocence and says he was convicted on the testimony of individuals who were themselves convicted felons.