Lawyers for Marcellus Williams, who is scheduled to die by injection at 6 p.m. Tuesday, insist it could be, after DNA found on the murder weapon did not match Williams. A cell mate of Williams came forward and said Williams confessed to killing Gayle.
The Missouri Supreme Court in 2015 postponed Williams' execution to allow time for the DNA tests, but last week after results of those tests were made available, the same court denied his petition to stop the execution and either appoint a special master to hear his innocence claim or vacate the death sentence and order his sentence commuted to life in prison.
The office said Williams' guilt was proven without DNA evidence.
"It would not have been unreasonable for (Williams) to wear gloves during the burglary and subsequent murder", prosecutors wrote in a court filing, to explain why his DNA was not on the knife. "And there is no reason to believe Williams would not have worn gloves during a burglary and murder, as he wore a jacket to hide his bloody shirt after he left the murder scene".
Hair samples and fingernails found at the crime scene don't match Williams' DNA either, said Greg Hampikian, a forensic DNA expert hired by defense lawyers, and footprints at the scene didn't match his shoes, defense attorney Larry Komp said. His cellmate from that time at a local jail, Henry Cole, and Laura Asaro, Williams' girlfriend, testified for the state, saying Williams told them separately that he committed the murder, according to the documents filed by the state attorney general.
However, Loree Anne Paradise, a spokesperson for the Missouri Attorney General's Office, said that prosecutors remain confident that Williams is guilty of the crime based on other evidence, AP notes.
Governor Eric Greiten has not publicly responded to the request. The onetime St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter surprised the burglar and was killed at her University City home.
Williams' son, Marcellus Williams II, said Monday that his father is not one to show pain.
"Someone murdered that woman, but it wasn't my father", he said.
The execution would be Missouri's second this year. Gayle walked in on her home being burglarized and according to the Associated Press was stabbed multiple times. She left the paper to do volunteer social work with children and the poor.