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PNS Weekend Newscast - September 23rd, 2017 


Here's a look at what we're covering: Senator John McCain says no to the GOP's health care plan, a new survey takes a look at how residents in one state feel about the effort to real Obamacare, and International Day of Peace is being celebrated this weekend.

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With Hours to Spare, Gov. Greitens Issues Stay of Execution

Marcellus Williams' 2014 mug shot, taken 15 years after his conviction for the death of Felicia Gayle. (Missouri Department of Corrections)
Marcellus Williams' 2014 mug shot, taken 15 years after his conviction for the death of Felicia Gayle. (Missouri Department of Corrections)
August 23, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Marcellus Williams was only a few hours from being executed Tuesday when Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens stepped in to issue a stay, citing new DNA evidence in Williams' capital murder case.

Williams was convicted in the 1998 stabbing death of former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Felicia Gayle. Recently tested DNA on the knife cited as the murder weapon did not match Williams' DNA, according to his attorneys.

Tricia Bushnell, director of the Midwest Innocence Project, the group that wrote to the governor asking for the stay, described her current state of mind as "pleased and grateful; that Gov. Greitens has both issued a stay and appointed a Board of Inquiry, is really showing a commitment to justice and to open process."

Williams, 48, was scheduled to die by lethal injection on Tuesday evening. State Attorney General Josh Hawley had argued that there was enough non-DNA evidence to uphold Williams' conviction.

Bushnell said there's no clear indication how long it will take an advisory board to review the DNA evidence. The state's case relied primarily on two witnesses she described as having incentive to believe they would benefit by pointing a finger at Williams. Too often in murder cases, Bushnell said, finality is prioritized over fairness.

"There is this myth that people get out on technicalities, but the reality is, technicalities keep people in," she said. "You're not even allowed to get into court. And as we saw here with Mr. Williams, he had this evidence and no one would even hear it."

In his stay order, the governor said simply, "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."

Greitens' order is online at governor.mo.gov.

Kevin Patrick Allen, Public News Service - MO