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Missouri Department of Corrections

Attorneys For A Missouri Death Row Inmate Says The State Will Execute An Innocent Man

Marcellus Williams, 48, is scheduled to die today. (Aug. 22) 

[UPDATE: Aug. 22, 4:45 p.m.]: Just four hours before Marcellus Williams' scheduled lethal injection, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed an executive order to stay the execution. According to the Washington Post, after much public pressure about potentially executing the wrong person, Greitens said he has appointed a board of inquiry to take a deeper look at the new DNA evidence and other factors. The board will also further consider Williams' clemency request, as well as issue a report determining whether or not he should still be executed or have his sentence commuted.

“A sentence of death is the ultimate, permanent punishment,” Greitens said in a statement. “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.”

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Lawyers for a Missouri death row inmate claim the state will willingly execute an innocent man despite new evidence proving their initial findings wrong.

Marcellus Williams, 48, is scheduled to be executed Tuesday (Aug. 22) at the state prison Bonne Terre for stabbing to death former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Lisha Gayle on Aug. 11, 1998. Gayle walked in on her home being burglarized and according to the Associated Press was stabbed multiple times.

However, attorney Kent Gipson claims DNA evidence that wasn't available during the time of the killing now concludes that Williams isn't the killer. Gipson reportedly appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking a new hearing or asking that Williams' sentence be commuted to life in prison. Gipson also asked Gov. Eric Greitens for clemency.

Gipson says according to DNA testing conducted in December, the results show that evidence found on the knife used to kill Gayle doesn't match Williams.  Previous testing of hairs found on Gayle's shirt and under her fingernails also exclude Williams, and a shoe print at the scene isn't Williams' either.

The new evidence “means in our mind the actual killer is not him,” Gipson said to the Associated Press. Yet, despite the new findings Loree Anne Paradise a spokeswoman for Attorney General said the office remains steadfast in their decision to execute.

Williams' conviction was based on the testimony of two convicted felons who were motivated to testify due to a $10,000 reward. One of those felons was Williams' ex-girlfriend and the other was Williams' cell mate. While new evidence shows Williams may be innocent of this crime he's serving consecutive life terms for robbery and a 30 years each for a burglary and weapons crimes.

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Discrimination Based On Hair Can Result In A $250K Penalty In NYC

New York City's Commission on Human Rights will reveal guidelines later this week for the legal recourse a person can take if they've been targeted at work, school or a public space based on their hair.

According to the New York Times, the law applies to anyone in New York City but is aimed at helping African-Americans who are disproportionately victimized based on the texture or style of their hair. The guidelines specifically read "natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state.”

When enacted, individuals who have been harassed, demoted or fired, the city's commission can issue a penalty for up to $250,000 and there is no cap on damages. The commission can also force an internal policy changes and rehirings at companies in question.

News of the guidelines comes just two months after a New Jersey teen was forced to cut his locs in order to continue participating in a wrestling match. The decision sparked outrage by many who found the choices discriminatory.

The guidelines obtained by the Times are considered the first in the country and are based on the argument one's hair is intrinsic to one's race and is protected under the city's human rights laws.

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Texas Teen Sentenced To 25 Years After Stabbing Best Friend To Death

A Texas teen was convicted of murdering her best friend last year after an argument transpired during a sleepover. The teen, whose name has not been released because she's a minor, is 14-year-old and was sentenced to 25 years in prison for stabbing Nylah Lightfoot in the chest and neck with a kitchen knife.

“I stabbed her and I made the worst mistake of my life,” the convicted girl said. "I wish I had been thinking clearly at the time. I pulled it out instantly and tried to stop her from running.”

According to reports, the accused girl said she and Nylah met at school and quickly became close, stating they were like sisters, but they also fought like siblings.

On the night in question, the girl said she went home after a pool party because there wasn't enough room in the bed at Nylah's apartment. The two began to argue via text message about a slamming door and then about returning clothes that each borrowed.

The teen then claims Nylah showed up at her apartment at 2:30 AM and then began arguing again. The girl says she retrieved a knife from her kitchen. Realizing what she did, the teen said she tried to help Nylah and stop the bleeding with a towel.

Nylah died at John Peter Smith Hospital May 29. Nylah's mother, Antoinette Carter made a victim's impact statement after sentencing and expressed grief her daughter's death came at the hands of her best friend.

“When they told me it was you, it hurt,” Carter told the girl. “You was at my house every day.”

The prosecution, however, didn't buy into the girl's versions of events and stated her anger problems is what caused Nylah's death.

"When she came outside with the knife, she was still in control. But not even her friend could stop her. She was only following through with what she had threatened twice,” Tarrant County prosecutor Jim Hudson said.

The girl faced 40 years in prison but was sentenced to 25. She will serve her time in a juvenile facility until her 19th  birthday.

The girl's stepfather said the verdict was unfair and cited Ethan Couch, the white teen who received no jail time, for driving drunk in 2013 and killed four people.

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Maryland Judge Overturns Jury's Decision To Award Korryn Gaines Family $37 Million

A Maryland judge has overturned a jury's decision to award the surviving family of Korryn Gaines $37 million. The 23-year-old was shot twice, along with her 5-year-old son Kodi, during an hour-long standoff in August 2016. The child survived Gaines did not.

According to CNN, Baltimore County Circuit Court Associate Judge Mickey J. Norman stated in an opinion Cpl Royce Ruby's conduct was "entitled to qualified immunity," which translates as Ruby was well within his rights as a member of law enforcement and is "shielded from liability for civil damages."

Norman's opinion states Ruby acted within the margins of the law. "This court has found that Corporal Ruby is entitled to qualified immunity and therefore, his shooting of Gaines was not unlawful."

However, Norman states the damages Gaines' surviving family was seeking were "excessive and shocks the conscience."

The jury awarded $32.85 million to Gaines' son Kodi, $23, 542 for his medical bills and $4.53 million to Gaines' daughter Karsyn Courtney. The jury also found it fit to award Gaines' mother Rhanda Dormeus $307,000 and $300,000 to her father Ryan Gaines.

Judge Norman said the court would grant a new civil trial on account of this new opinion.

J. Wyndal Gordon, Gaines' family lawyer said the family is disappointed but not "defeated nor deterred from doing what must be done now."

"We have great appellate issues and an excellent opportunity to have reviewed not just the recent decision but some of the earlier decisions in the case that were disfavorable," Gordon said. "Nobody told us the road would be easy. I don't believe God brought us this far to leave us. This case is by no means over. We will fight to the finish to preserve the jury's verdict and restore justice to the family."

Baltimore County police spokesperson confirmed that Cpl Royce Ruby is still a member of the department.

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