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Missouri Supreme Court sets execution date for Marcellus Williams amid drug controversy

Marcellus Williams' execution was postponed in August.
Missouri Department of Corrections
Marcellus Williams is set to die on Aug. 22.

The Missouri Supreme Court issued a new execution date Wednesday for a man convicted in a 1998 murder in St. Louis County despite debate over the supplier of the state's execution drug.

Marcellus Williams will be executed Aug. 22. He originally was scheduled to die in 2015, but the Missouri Supreme Court withdrew that execution warrant and put his death on hold, offering no explanation.

The Missouri Department of Corrections has refused to disclose the supplier of its execution drug, the sedative pentobarbital. The agency didn't answer questions Wednesday from St. Louis Public Radio about the amount of pentobarbital that the state has and when it expires. The state changed to a one-drug protocol in 2013.

Corrections department spokesman David Owen said only that the agency is “prepared to carry out the execution … following the execution protocol established in October 2013.”

The death penalty has come under more scrutiny in recent years following botched executions in Oklahoma and Ohio, as well as questions surrounding how and from whom states purchase drugs used to put people to death. Arkansas, which originally planned to put eight men to death over an 11-day period this year, on Monday, carried out the nation’s first double execution on one day in nearly 17 years.

Williams was convicted of the 1998 robbery and murder of Felicia Gayle, a former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, in her University City home. St. Louis Public Radio reported in 2015 that Williams maintained his innocence, and had asked St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch to do DNA testing. McCulloch declined, prompting Williams to seek intervention from state and federal courts.

The execution order notes that the court rejected Williams’ petition for a writ of habeas corpus on January 31.

Missouri’s last execution was in January — the first since May 2016.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum


Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.