Midwest Innocence Project Claims DNA Evidence Proves Man’s Innocence of First Degree Murder of Reporter 24 Years Ago

Via Pix4free

By Isabella Walker

ST. LOUIS, MO – New DNA evidence proves Marcellus Williams did not commit the murder of Lishan Gayle, a former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, according to the Midwest Innocence Project’s Bryan Cave, and Williams’ attorneys Larry Komp and Kent Gipson.

The defense maintained incomplete testimonies from two witnesses and inconclusive physical evidence falsely connected Williams to Gayle’s murder.

However, Gov. Mike Parsons has lifted the stay of 53-year-old Marcellus Williams’ execution, said the defense, maintaining Williams has spent 24 years of his life on death row for a murder DNA evidence proves someone else committed.

The defense also reports Gov. Parson terminated a board consisting of five former judges appointed to examine the case of Williams, lifting the stay years ago instituted by then-Gov. Eric Greitens just minutes before Mr. Williams’ scheduled execution in 2017.

The defense said new technology has determined that the DNA evidence linked to the crime scene did not match up with Williams’ DNA, and there is no update on stopping or delaying his execution date.

Gayle was stabbed 16 times by a kitchen knife still lodged in her throat. DNA evidence and experts have now established Williams has no connection to the murder, said the Innocence Project.

The defense said the case against Williams relied heavily on testimony from two people: a prison informant, and Williams’ ex-girlfriend. However, the credibility of both these testimonies has significant grounds for skepticism.

The defense charged the informant is “known for his dishonesty by his family members, had a potential motive to fabricate or exaggerate his claim that Mr. Williams confessed to him while they were both incarcerated…(he) initially refused to participate as a witness in Ms. Gayle’s case until he was promised payment and then made it clear in the 2001 deposition that he would not have come forward if it hadn’t been for the $5,000 he was given by prosecutors.”

“Notably, several details in his testimony were strikingly similar to the information that had been published in newspapers about the murder, suggesting he may have been fed this information directly or indirectly,” said the Innocence Project.

The ex-girlfriend “had a history of deception and had faced solicitation charges when police initially approached her about the case in Nov. 1999. She had worked with the police before and had testified against Mr. Williams in a previous trial. She even lied under oath in her recorded deposition regarding her arrest history…(she) mentioned to her neighbor that she was receiving money for her testimony against Mr. Williams,” said the defense.

“Further adding to the doubt, the narratives from (the witnesses) were significantly different and didn’t match the crime scene evidence,” added the defense, noting the “only evidence connecting Mr. Williams to Ms. Gayle’s murder was the testimony of (the two witnesses).”

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, incentivized witness testimony has contributed to 14 percent of death penalty cases that later led to a DNA exoneration. The two incentivized witnesses in this case were motivated by the reward money and favorable treatment in their own criminal cases.

Compared to the testimonies, the defense revealed Gayle’s neighbors never saw Williams near her house and the bloody footprints left behind did not match Williams. The biological evidence collected at the crime did not match Williams. 

“In 2016, testing of DNA samples retrieved from the crime scene entirely excluded Mr. Williams as a contributor, contradicting the testimony-based evidence used to convict him,” said the Innocence Project.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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