On August 22, 2017, Governor Eric Greitens issued a stay of execution and appointed a Gubernatorial Board of Inquiry in the case of Marcellus Williams, to further consider Williams’ request for executive clemency.
Williams was sentenced to death after a jury convicted him of the first-degree murder of Felicia Gayle in 2001. DNA testing of the murder weapon, conducted in 2016, was inconclusive.
In furtherance of the Governor’s constitutional power to grant pardons and executive clemency, state law gives the Governor exclusive discretion to appoint a Board of Inquiry to gather information and make a report to the Governor as to whether or not a person condemned to death should be executed. Section 552.070, RSMo.
Today, Governor Greitens has appointed five retired judges to serve as members of the Board of Inquiry. They are:
Judge Booker Shaw, Chair
Judge Booker Shaw served on the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, for seven years. Judge Shaw served as the court’s chief judge for a year and also served as special judge on the Supreme Court of Missouri. Before joining the appellate bench, Judge Shaw served as a trial judge in the 22nd Judicial Circuit, covering St. Louis City, from 1983 until 2002.
Judge Michael David
Judge David served as a circuit court judge in the 22nd Judicial Circuit of Missouri, covering St. Louis City, for more than 25 years, from 1992 to 2015. In that role, he presided over hundreds of civil and criminal trials and also served as the circuit’s presiding judge. Before becoming a circuit judge, Judge David spent three years as an associate circuit judge in the 22nd Judicial Circuit.
Judge Peggy McGraw Fenner
Judge Peggy McGraw Fenner served as a circuit court judge in the 16th Judicial Circuit of Missouri, covering Jackson County, from 2001-2013. She previously served as an associate circuit judge in Jackson County from 1995-2001. Before joining the bench, Judge Fenner served as the clerk of the Missouri Court of Appeals-Western District from 1979-1995.
Judge Carol Jackson
Judge Carol Jackson served as a judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri from 1992 to August 31, 2017, and as chief judge of that court from 2002-2009. She previously served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge from 1986 to 1992. Judge Jackson was the first African-American magistrate judge in the Eastern District of Missouri, and the first African-American woman to serve as a district court judge in the Eastern District of Missouri.
Judge Paul Spinden
Judge Spinden served as a judge on the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District from 1991 to 2009. Judge Spinden served as the court’s chief judge from 2000-2002 and served as special judge on the Supreme Court of Missouri. Prior to his appointment to the Court of Appeals, Judge Spinden served for six years as a Missouri administrative law judge.
The Board of Inquiry shall have subpoena power over persons and things, pursuant to state law. At the close of its work, the Board will report and make a recommendation to the Governor as to whether or not Williams should be executed or his sentence of death commuted.
The executive order appointing a Board of Inquiry can be found here.