Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Please stop killing us - please. Act now and save a life

In the Spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. …
Halt Jan. 28 Execution of Marcellus Williams—                A Strong Case of being Wrongly Convicted
Missouri officials plan to execute Marcellus Williams late Tuesday night, just after midnight on Jan. 28-- even as much doubt lingers of his guilt in the 1998 murder of Felicia Gayle, during a robbery of her University City home. This sad case provides a profound human profile why Missouri needs at least a Moratorium NOW, with legislative remedies to promote greater fairness and minimize the chances of wrongful convictions.
Much physical evidence exists but none of it points to Mr. Williams. Technology has vastly improved in the years since so the evidence should be re-tested to see if a match could be made through the national DNA database.  However, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCullough— who orchestrated the grand jury proceed-ing leading to the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson for Michael Brown’s fatal shooting and directs the state’s most prolific death-sentencing county —pursued the death penalty as well in this case and has refused to release evidence for further DNA testing. 
Investigators found head hairs on the victim’s shirt and rug where her body was found, pubic hairs on the rug, plus blood and skin scrapings underneath Gayle’s fingernails (quite likely left from defensive scratching of her assailant during the fatal stabbing). None of it matches the DNA of Williams, Mrs. Gayle or her husband.  Courts have nonetheless denied requests by his trial, appeal and current attorneys to have the evidence tested for DNA matches with people in the national database of those convicted of crimes around the country.  A federal judge just 10 days prior to his execution dismissed the request as “frivolous.”  Mr. Williams was convicted primarily on the testimony of a drug-addicted former girlfriend and a jailhouse snitch who came forward about a year after the murder and said he confessed to them.  Both had legal problems resolved in exchange for their cooperation.
Race matters: African-Americans were victims in 60-percent of murders in Missouri the past four decades yet 62 of the 80 people (nearly 78%) who were executed since 1989 were convicted of murdering White victims—as was the case in this conviction and 9 of the 10 executions last year. 
We mourn with the loved ones of Mrs. Gayle, and all those grieving the loss of relatives and friends who have been murdered. Healing is most certainly impeded, however, by the execution of anyone who may be wrongly convicted.  Those who actually committed those murders meanwhile remain free and may have victimized more people.
*Please Contact Gov. Jay Nixon: calling 573-751-3222; write/type a letter via e-mail at, faxing 573-751-1495 or tweeting @GovJayNixon.  Urge him to stay the execution, at least until more DNA testing is conducted.

*If the execution is not stayed, Attend Tues., Jan. 27 “Vigils for Life”:                                                               --Jeff City 12:00-1:00 pm, outside the Governor’s Office, 2nd Floor State Capitol;                                                  --Columbia 5:00-6:00 pm, Boone County Courthouse, Walnut St.                                                            For Vigils elsewhere in MO log onto:                                                                                    
Attend Moratorium Now! Lobby Day                           10:15 am- 2:00 pm, Wed.  Jan. 21 Hearing Room 3, State Capitol Basement, Jeff City         The Moratorium Now! Campaign advocates for an execution moratorium while a task force recommends reforms promoting greater fairness and minimizing chances of wrongful convictions.  For more: call 573-449-4585 or    Co-sponsored by Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (MADP).

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