Death Row Prisoner Due To Be Executed Despite DNA Evidence That Could Clear Him
A man in the US is about to be executed, despite the fact new DNA evidence appears to prove his innocence.
Forty-eight-year-old Marcellus Williams was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1998 murder of Lisha Gayle in St Louis.
Prosecutors claimed that Williams stabbed Gayle to death after she discovered him burgling her home. Williams has always said he was innocent.
After 16 years on death row, Williams is due to be put to death by lethal injection today at 6pm local time (12am GMT).
However, new evidence seems to suggest that Williams is innocent, after DNA testing revealed that his blood does not match that found on the knife used to kill Gayle, but is a match for an 'unknown male'.
His lawyers believe that the evidence, which wasn't available at his original trial, could exonerate him. They are now appealing to the US Supreme Court to make a last-minute, desperate bid to halt the execution.
Kent Gimpson, William's lawyer, told Al Jazeera: "We petitioned the court to look at the new evidence on August 14th, and less than 24 hours later they decided based on the court files that the execution should go ahead anyway. This is unprecedented.
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"There is no physical evidence, no eyewitnesses that directly connect Williams to the murder, the DNA on the weapon wasn't his, the bloody footprint at the murder scene wasn't from Williams' shoe and was a different size, and the hair fibres found weren't his.
"It was someone else that killed Gayle, not Williams."
The lawyer at Williams' original trial admits he was so busy with other work he didn't have enough time to properly prepare the defence case. He asked for a postponement but was denied it by the courts.
In 2015 Williams' execution was delayed by the Missouri Supreme Court, so his lawyers could carry out DNA testing. However, even with the new evidence, it was decided last week the execution should go ahead.
Prosecutors say they have enough evidence to prove Williams is guilty, including two witnesses who claim he confessed to the murder.
His lawyers say the two witnesses - a former cell mate and prostitute - were motivated by a financial reward to testify against him.
Featured Image Credit: Missouri Department of Corrections
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