Man who once faced possible death sentence, praises Gov. Greitens for issuing stay of execution for Marcellus Williams

COLUMBIA, MO - Columbia, MO resident Josh Kezer is praising Gov. Eric Greitens for issuing a stay of execution for convicted killer Marcellus Williams.  The stay was granted Tuesday following appeals by Williams’ attorneys.

Kezer says he’s living proof the justice system is not perfect. He was convicted of murder in Scott County and spent 16 years behind bars before being exonerated.  A judge determined key evidence was not made available to the defense and ordered Kezer’s release in February of 2009.

“I once faced the potential of a death sentence at one point,” said Kezer.  “I’m glad they didn’t kill me.”

Kezer said his interest in the Williams case is about getting to the truth.  He believes the defense claim that new DNA testing on the murder weapon points to an unknown male should at the very least be enough to grant Williams a new trial or even possibly an exoneration.

“A young lady was murdered.  She was found with a knife left in her body.  She deserves justice. She doesn’t deserve something that looks like justice,” said Kezer.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch has insisted there is enough evidence to support the execution of Williams.  He’s said the DNA evidence the defense is talking about does not rule out Williams.  The Missouri Attorney General’s Office has released repeated statements indicating it stands behind the jury’s decision and the court rulings upholding that decision.

Kezer calls it a familiar pattern and believes the state needs to do a better job of giving cases a second look.  He believes political ambitions can influence a decision to stand behind a conviction.

“We need to not be satisfied with the bar we set to this point,” he said.

Kezer released the following statement Tuesday when Gov. Greitens issued a stay and called for a board to review Williams’ case:

My continued prayers are with everyone in this case. With Marcellus Williams. With Lisha Gayle's family, and friends. With the St. Louis Post-Dispatch community. It has to be hard on so many.

The DNA evidence in this case creates problems with the conviction. I'm thankful there's a stay, and there's going to be a review. I'm thankful Governor Greitens sees the importance of guilt, and innocence. His decision offers hope to the state of Missouri, and demonstrates fairness.  Everyone deserves the entire truth. Shades of truth serves noone the greater good. The entire truth serves everyone.  - Josh Kezer @joshkezer