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Missouri governor stops execution

DNA evidence points to man’s innocence for a 1998 murder

By Frederick H. Lowe

Marcellus Williams was scheduled to die tonight for a 1998 murder, but Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens issued a stay of execution this afternoon because new DNA evidence doesn’t link Williams to the crime.

Marcellus Williams

The 48-year-old Williams has always proclaimed his innocence for the murder of Felicia Gayle, and now Gov. Greitens will appoint a Gubernatorial Board of Inquiry to consider Williams’ request for executive clemency based on DNA evidence found on a knife, the murder weapon.

“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,” Gov. Greitens said.

At the close of its work, the five-member board will make a recommendation to the governor as to whether Williams should be executed or should have his death sentence commuted.

Gayle was found in her home, located in a gated community, stabbed to death.

The DNA found on the murder weapon, a knife, was not Williams’ but belonged to a third, unknown person, according to evidence presented in 2016. A footprint found at the scene also belonged to an unknown person.

Williams has not been linked by any physical evidence to the murder.  Prosecutors won his conviction based on the accounts of two people who knew him.

Henry Cole, who shared a jail cell with Williams, said he confessed to murdering the 42-year-old Gayle, a white woman.

Laura Asaro, Williams’ off-and-on again girlfriend and a drug addict, claimed Williams had scratches on his neck from a woman other than her.  Williams’ DNA was not found underneath the victim’s nails.

Asaro also claimed Williams had Gayle’s driver’s license, but her driver’s license was left at the crime scene.

Gayle was a social worker who previously worked as a St. Louis Dispatch newspaper reporter.

Cole and Asaro may have been motivated by the $10,000 reward offered by the family to anyone who provided credible information leading to the apprehension of Gayle’s killer.

In 2001, a majority white jury convicted Williams of Gayle’s murder.  He faced death by lethal injection at 6p.m. in Bonne Terre State Prison.

So far, DNA evidence has exonerated 351 people of the crimes for which they had been charged and convicted.

 

Scramble for Last Chance at $10 National Parks Lifetime Senior Pass before August 28 Deadline

By Rosemary Eng

Here’s a chance to show your kids and grandkids the spectacular beauty of America for $10.  If you act fast, you can still buy a $10 National Parks Lifetime Senior Pass that will give you and three companions or you and passengers in your car admission to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites.

On August 28, 2017, the cost of the Lifetime Senior Pass will jump to $80. The annual pass for seniors, 62 and older, will cost $20.

The current $10 passes can be purchased in person at hundreds of federal recreational sites https://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm.

Or passes can be purchased online with an added $10 processing fee. See https://store.usgs.gov/senior-pass for the online application form, which must be received before August 28. Online processing is slow because of a big surge in applications being received before the deadline.

President Barack Obama aggressively worked to protect national monuments, land set aside by the federal government for the public. He declared five new national monuments, including two in Alabama and one in South Carolina, commemorating events in African-American history. Obama pushed to expand national monuments in California and Oregon to protect biodiversity and wildlife habitats. He created or expanded 34 national monuments, more than any other American president.

Towards the end of his term, Obama created the first Atlantic Ocean marine monument off the New England coast to protect sea life.

Senior Pass

With climate change and conservation in mind, he increased in size a Marine National Monument in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands which would protect that area from deep-sea mining.

Now President Donald J. Trump wants to review national monuments protections. One particularly controversial national monument is Bears Ears in Utah where Native Americans say the land holds thousands of culturally important and sacred sites.

If Trump rolls back protection, the lands could be opened for mining and other business exploitation.

A report in the LATimes says, “Trump has the right to reverse the national monuments created by previous presidents without an act of Congress, but by the same token, the Constitution creates a check by allowing future presidents to reverse Trump too.”

For more information on national parks, go to https://www.nps.gov/index.htm .

 

Congressional Black Caucus wants Confederate monuments from the nation’s Capitol removed

Three members of the Congressional Black Caucus have either introduced legislation or intend to introduce bills calling for the removal of Confederate monuments located in the nation’s Capitol and the renaming military bases named after Confederate generals.

U.S. Sen. Corey Booker

Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) and U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D., Calif.) said they will introduce legislation in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate to remove Confederate memorials from the Capitol when they return to Washington, D.C. following the August recess.

U.S. Rep. Yvette Clark (D., N.Y.) has introduced legislation calling for the U.S. Defense Department to rename military bases named for Confederate leaders.

Among the National Statuary Collection in the U.S. Capitol, there

are nine statues honoring the Confederacy. They include Gen. Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy.

Nine military bases are named after members of the Confederacy. They are:

. Fort Lee, Virginia, named after General Robert E. Lee;

. Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, named after General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard

. Fort Benning, Alabama, named after Brig. Gen. Henry L. Benning

. Fort Gordon, Georgia, named after Maj. General Henry Gordon

. Fort Bragg, North Carolina, named after General Braxton Bragg. Fort Bragg is the world’s largest military installation by population.

. Fort Polk, Louisiana, named after General Leonidas Polk;

. Fort A. P. Hill, Virginia, named for Lieutenant General A. P. Hill

. Fort Pickett, Virginia, named for General George Pickett

. Fort Rucker, Alabama, named for General Edmund Rucker

. Fort Hood, Texas, named for General John Bell Hood

 

Black police officers  show support for Colin Kaepernick

Black New York City police officers joined by legendary former New York City detective Frank Serpico showed their support for former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

He became the target of angry NFL owners, fans and teammates because he kneeled on one knee last season during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.

Black police officers supporting Colin Kaepernick. They are wearing black T-shirts with a white horzontal background that says #I’m With Kap.”

Some charged Kaepernick’s protest was “anti-cop.”

However, black cops don’t see it that way. “We want to speak up because we don’t think Colin Kaepernick took a knee against police officers. He took a knee against injustice. I became an officer of the law to uphold justice and protect innocent people,” said Edwin Raymond, a sergeant with the NYPD and one of the demonstrators.

Serpico testified against NYPD corruption in the 1970s. About 100 officers participated in the demonstration which was held on

Colin Kaepernick

Saturday at the Brooklyn Bridge Park boardwalk. The event was organized by Blacks in Law Enforcement of America.

No NFL team has signed Kaepernick, but more NFL players are beginning to support him.

Before Monday night’s preseason game, more than a dozen Cleveland Browns players staged the largest national anthem protest yet. They were joined by white players for what’s believed to be the first time, when the Browns played the New York Giants. About 67  percent of NFL players are African American.

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