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Marcellus "Khaliifah" Williams


Marcellus "Khaliifah" Williams has been on death row for over 24 years despite DNA indicating his innocence. The process used to convict him was so flawed, even the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Office Conviction & Integrity Review Unit has filed a motion to vacate. Then MO Governor Eric Greitens had given Khaliifah a stay of execution and initiated a Board of Inquiry which began its investigation back in 2018. In June 2023, MO Governor Mike Parson lifted the stay of execution, followed by the MO Attorney General asking the state Supreme Court to set an execution date.

There has never been any physical evidence linking Khaliifah to the crime. The DNA actually excludes him. And his conviction, like so many wrongful convictions, rests on the inconsistent and unreliable testimony of informants. Yet he has been on death row for 24 years and faced multiple execution dates.

History of the Case: In 1998, former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Lisha Gayle, died after being stabbed in her home. Two years later, Khaliifah was convicted of her death, although no physical evidence or crime scene evidence connected him to the crime. In addition, the state presented no motive and used the inconsistent allegations of two incentivized witnesses (informants) as the state’s proof. These witness statements were not only inconsistent with the crime scene, but were also in conflict with one another.

Khaliifah was first scheduled to be executed in 2015, when hours before that irreversible & horrific act, the Missouri Supreme Court halted the execution and ordered DNA testing on evidence that had not been tested previously. The results were released in 2016 and entirely excluded Mr. Williams as a contributor, contradicting the testimony-based evidence used to convict him. After another ‘close call’ in 2017 where a second execution date was halted mere hours before Khaliifah would be executed, then Governor Greitens issued a ‘stay’ of execution - based on the 2016 DNA testing results - and ordered a Board Of Inquiry (BOI) to be established in order to conduct a thorough investigation into the innocence claims of Marcellus “Khaliifah” Williams. This BOI was made up of legal experts who began their probe in 2018.


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