Attorneys for condemned Missouri man seek halt to execution - KMOV.com

Lawyers believe state of Missouri is about to execute an innocent man

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Marcellus Williams is on death row. He was convicted for fatally stabbing St. Louis Post Dispatch reporter Liisha Gayle in 1998. Credit: KMOV Marcellus Williams is on death row. He was convicted for fatally stabbing St. Louis Post Dispatch reporter Liisha Gayle in 1998. Credit: KMOV

By Jim Salter (AP) & Eric Cox, KMOV reporter

ST. LOUIS (AP AND KMOV.com) -  Attorneys for a condemned Missouri inmate warn that the state is preparing to execute a potentially innocent man.

"How innocent do you have to be to avoid being executed," said Kent Gipson.

Marcellus Williams is scheduled to die Tuesday at the state prison in Bonne Terre for the brutal stabbing death of former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Lisha Gayle during a 1998 robbery at her home in University City. It would be the state's second execution this year.

Attorney Kent Gipson says DNA testing conducted in December using techniques that were not available at the time of the killing shows DNA found on the knife used in the killing matches an unknown man, but not Williams. Gipson says this evidence was dismissed by Missouri's Supreme Court last week.

With no forensic or eyewitness testimony linking Williams to the murder, Gipson told News 4 the prosecution based its case on the testimonies of two people, who later received a financial reward from the victim's family.

"It's just remarkable to me that the attorney general and the other people defending this conviction can say with a straight face that DNA does not trump the evidence that they've submitted," said Gipson

Attorneys for Williams have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking a new hearing or for his sentence to be commuted to life in prison. They've also asked Gov. Eric Greitens for clemency.

"I told them (U.S. Supreme Court) in the filings that they've never seen an innocence case as compelling as this," said Gipson. "Any fair-minded person could look at this and say, 'I don't think this guy is guilty.'"

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