Prosecutor McColluch stands by original court decisions to sentence Williams to death

Following Gov. Greiten’s order to stay the execution of Marcellus Williams Tuesday, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch issued a statement standing by the judges, jury, and courts that imposed the death sentence for murder.

“Marcellus Williams was convicted by a St. Louis County jury of the 1998 murder of Lisha Gayle,” McCulloch said in a written statement. “The same jury, after hearing and considering all of the evidence declared his punishment to be death for the murder. After thorough consideration of all evidence and the law, the trial Judge concurred and imposed a sentence of death. The conviction and sentence have been reviewed and affirmed repeatedly during the past twenty years by the Missouri Supreme Court and others.”

“This afternoon, Governor Greitens, pursuant to the Missouri Constitution, exercised his right and duty as Governor and granted a stay of execution to Marcellus Williams pending his final determination regarding granting clemency to Williams. The Governor also ordered the formation of a Board of Inquiry pursuant to Section 552.070 RSMo. Although Chapter 552.070 pertains only to ‘Criminal Proceedings Involving Mental Illness’ (which is not an allegation made by Williams now or at any time during the past twenty years), I am confident that any Board and the Governor, after a full review of all evidence and information, will reach the same conclusion reached by the Jury and the various Courts.”

New DNA evidence from the murder weapon, a butcher knife from Gayle’s home, shows another man’s DNA was on the knife, giving pause to Gov. Greitens, who appointed the Board of Inquiry, which will report to the Governor when it wraps up its proceedings.

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed weighed in, saying, “I am extremely grateful that Gov. Greitens has stayed the execution of Marcellus Williams in light of the additional questions raised by new DNA evidence. The State of Missouri owes it to the families of Lisha Gayle and Marcellus Williams to finally find the answers that have eluded them for so many years, and I appreciate the governor appointing a Board of Inquiry to further investigate this tragic loss of life.”

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