St. Louis County prosecutor dismisses growing support to halt execution

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Felicia Gayle was a former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter who left the business to perform social work. She was stabbed to death inside her University City home in 1998. Marcellus Williams, the man convicted of her murder, is scheduled to be executed by the state of Missouri just after midnight on Tuesday.

Tens of thousands of people have signed petitions calling for the execution to be stopped. Attorneys for Williams say new DNA tests performed on the murder weapon point to a different killer.

“The DNA on the knife handle does not match Marcellus'. It matches an unknown male profile and so we thought that ought to be enough to get him a new trial or at the very least get his sentence commuted,” said Kent Gipson, attorney for Williams.

Gipson said two appeals have been filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to stop the scheduled execution. He’s also asked Missouri Governor Eric Greitens to use his authority to stop the execution. The St. Louis County case is gaining international attention.

“I’ve had journalists contact me not only from this country, but I’ve given interviews to (journalists) in England, France, and the Middle East,” Gipson said.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch is expected to speak out about the case Tuesday and defend the conviction of Williams. He told FOX 2 Monday night the new DNA test is not grounds for stopping the execution because it does not rule out Williams.

Loree Anne Paradise, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, released the following statement regarding efforts to stop the execution: “Based on the other, non-DNA evidence in this case, our office is confident in Marcellus Williams’ guilt and plans to move forward.”

That other evidence includes items recovered from Gayle’s home. They were recovered inside a vehicle belonging to Williams’ grandfather. Police say Williams had been using that car.

Williams was initially arrested on unrelated charges in St. Louis City. A cell mate of Williams came forward and said Williams confessed to killing Gayle. That cell mate contacted police with details of the murder investigators say were never released to the public. Gipson believes the new DNA evidence should trump the word of someone he characterizes as a “jailhouse snitch.”

Fox 2 News made a request through the Missouri Department of Corrections to interview Williams, but we were told Williams declined our request.