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Missouri governor names panel to examine new DNA evidence in Marcellus Williams’ case

Marcellus Williams' execution was postponed in August.
Missouri Department of Corrections

A few weeks after staying the execution of Marcellus Williams, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens named five retired judges Tuesday to the board of inquiry that’ll look at new DNA evidence.

Three of the five are from the St. Louis area: former state Appeals Court Judge Booker Shaw, former Circuit Judge Michael David and former U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson. Shaw will chair the panel, according to a news release from Greitens’ office.

Williams has been on death row since 2001 after he was convicted in the fatal stabbing of Lisha Gayle, a former Post-Dispatch reporter, in 1998. Williams’ lawyers said new tests of the knife showed Williams’ DNA wasn’t on it, and Greitens postponed the Aug. 22 execution date

The Missouri attorney general’s office has said there’s plenty of other evidence that shows Williams is guilty.

Other members of the panel are former Appeals Court Judge Paul Spinden and former Circuit Court Judge Peggy McGraw Fenner. The panel will review the evidence and recommend whether Williams should be executed or whether Greitens should commute his sentence.  

Greitens' spokesman Parker Briden has said there’s no deadline for the panel to report back to the governor.

Follow Jo on Twitter: @jmannies

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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