Missouri man escapes execution after lawyers say DNA clears him

Republican Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens stayed the execution of Marcellus Williams, 48, following public outcry to do so. Williams was previously granted a stay of execution in 2015 only to have it denied again earlier in August despite DNA evidence exonerating him of the 1998 stabbing death of former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Lisha Gayle, 42.

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Greitens announced the decision only hours before Williams was scheduled to die via lethal injection on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

"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. In light of new information, I am appointing a Board of Inquiry in this case," Greitens announced in a statement.

The statement also announced that Greitens will choose the five members of the board.

Prior to the decision, many on the internet spent part of Monday and much of Tuesday spreading awareness of Williams' story using #MarcellusWilliams.