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Marcellus Williams, who is citing new DNA evidence in murder of Lisha Gayle, faces death penalty case again

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A death penalty case will continue against a Missouri man who is citing new DNA evidence in his innocence claim for the stabbing death of a former newspaper reporter, the governor announced Thursday.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson dissolved a panel of five former judges who had been tasked with reviewing Marcellus Williams’ case and ended a stay on his execution. No execution date has been set yet.

Williams was convicted of killing former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Lisha Gayle during a 1998 burglary at her home in University City. Gayle, 42, was a reporter at the Post-Dispatch from 1981 to 1992 before leaving to do social work.

“This Board was established nearly six years ago, and it is time to move forward,” Parson said in a statement. “We could stall and delay for another six years, deferring justice, leaving a victim’s family in limbo, and solving nothing. This administration won’t do that.”

Parson said “everyone will receive certainty” once the case is settled in court.

Williams’ lawyer did not immediately return an Associated Press request for comment Thursday.

Parson’s decision comes five years after Williams was just hours away from execution.

“Me and my father, we said our goodbyes,” his son, Marcellus Williams Jr., previously told CBS News. “We said we loved each other, I loved him, he loved me.” 

But former Gov. Eric Greitens stepped in and ordered the investigation.  Greitens’ action followed the release of new DNA testing unavailable at the time of the killing: DNA found on the murder weapon matched another unknown person, not Williams.

“There’s enough doubt in this case that his sentence should at least be commuted,” Innocence Project co-founder Barry Scheck told CBS News. “The skin cells on the handle of the knife that was used in this murder are not from him.” 

The former St. Louis County prosecutor has said that there is no chance Williams is innocent, citing ample amounts of other evidence.

Prosecutors said Williams broke a window pane to get inside Gayle’s home on Aug. 11, 1998, heard water running in the shower, and found a large butcher knife. When Gayle came downstairs, she was stabbed 43 times. Her purse and her husband’s laptop were stolen.

Authorities said Williams stole a jacket to conceal blood on his shirt. Williams’ girlfriend asked him why he would wear a jacket on such a hot day. The girlfriend said she later saw the laptop in the car and that Williams sold it a day or two later.

Prosecutors also cited testimony from Henry Cole, who shared a St. Louis cell with Williams in 1999 while Williams was jailed on unrelated charges. Cole told prosecutors that Williams confessed to the killing and offered details about it.

Williams’ attorneys responded that the girlfriend and Cole were both convicted felons out for a $10,000 reward.

In a previous statement to CBS News, Gayle’s family said: “While we understand that Williams’ sentencing fits a troubling pattern of racial disparity in the death penalty and that a case serious enough to warrant death is serious enough to warrant careful scrutiny, we would ask those on all sides to recognize that for the family, this is not policy, it is pain.”



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Historic IT outage causes travel chaos, leaves airlines reeling

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Historic IT outage causes travel chaos, leaves airlines reeling – CBS News


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A software meltdown caused one of the largest tech outages in modern history, grounding thousands of flights worldwide Friday, stranding travelers and leaving airlines scrambling for answers. Kris Van Cleave reports.

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How the CrowdStrike glitch crippled operations across the globe

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How the CrowdStrike glitch crippled operations across the globe – CBS News


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A flaw in a software update from CrowdStrike, a firm that provides cybersecurity services through Microsoft for half of the Fortune 1000 companies, has caused a major worldwide tech outage. Carter Evans examines exactly what caused the glitch and how it is being fixed.

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Trump, Ukraine’s Zelenskyy speak by phone

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Washington — Former President Donald Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday in a call that comes nearly five years after another phone conversation between the leaders triggered Trump’s first impeachment. 

Both Trump and Zelenskyy shared details of the call on social media, saying the Ukrainian president congratulated Trump on becoming the GOP nominee and condemning Saturday’s attempted assassination. 

Trump, who has insisted that the war between Russia and Ukraine “would have never happened” if he were still president, described it as a “very good phone call.” 

“I appreciate President Zelenskyy for reaching out because I, as your next President of the United States, will bring peace to the world and end the war that has cost so many lives and devastated countless innocent families. Both sides will be able to come together and negotiate a deal that ends the violence and paves a path forward to prosperity,” Trump said, though he has not said how peace would be achieved. 

Zelenskyy said Ukraine was grateful for U.S. aid and that the two agreed to “discuss at a personal meeting what steps can make peace fair and truly lasting.” 

Trump has been critical of the Biden administration sending billions in aid to Ukraine to help it defend itself since Russia launched a full-scale invasion in February 2022. Trump has called Zelenskyy “the greatest salesman of any politician that’s ever lived.” 

“Every time he comes to our country, he walks away with $60 billion,” Trump said on June 15. 

It’s unclear if Trump would support continued military aid for Ukraine if he wins the election. His running mate, Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, has also been critical of Ukraine assistance. 

During a call between Trump and Zelenskyy on July 25, 2019, the then-president pushed for his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter. 

The House, controlled by Democrats at the time, impeached Trump in December 2019, but the Republican-led Senate acquitted him of charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress. 

Olivia Rinaldi contributed reporting. 



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