In a display of courage and commitment to justice, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens halted the execution of Marcellus Williams mere hours before he was scheduled to be executed on Tuesday. DNA testing raised questions about whether he had committed a murder during a 1998 burglary.
Williams’ attorney cited DNA evidence found on the murder weapon that matched another unknown person instead of Williams. Greitens issued the stay of execution in order to appoint a Gubernatorial Board of Inquiry to look into Williams’ claims of innocence. The five-member board will “consider all evidence presented to the jury, in addition to newly discovered DNA evidence, and any other relevant evidence not available to the jury.” News of the stay of execution was met with cheers by execution protesters outside of Governor Greitens’ office. Many attribute the stay to a very strong social media campaign.
In a released statement, Greitens said “a sentence of death is the ultimate, permanent punishment. To carry out the death penalty, the people of Missouri must have confidence in the judgment of guilt.” We commend the stand Greitens has taken, but firmly believe that there is no way to ever ensure “confidence” in a death sentence. This case demonstrates the power of social media as a platform for change and reform.
North Carolina has not carried out an execution in 11 years, but still will not take the next logical step to abolition. As activist, social media is a powerful tool to use in the fight to abolish the death penalty once and for all. North Carolina legislators need to know that our state no longer wants or supports the death penalty.
No timeline has been set for this inquiry. Learn more about this case here.