Marcellus Williams was supposed to die on Tuesday. The Missouri man was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1998 brutal stabbing of Felicia "Lisha" Gayle, a former reporter with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Fast-forward to December 2014, when Greg Hampikian got a call about a Missouri case that needed some additional eyes. Hampikian is a Boise State biology professor, and has done forensics work for criminal cases around the world – including the Amanda Knox case in Italy. As the day of the lethal injection approached, Hampikian made a last-ditch effort and brought in colleagues across the country to examine the DNA evidence against Williams.
“I called up every favor I possibly could from everybody in the field," says Hampikian. "Anybody who would be paid for this case would want six weeks at least to go through the material. And I was asking friends to do it over the weekend.”
Just four hours before the scheduled execution, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens stopped it, and appointed a board to re-examine his case.
Despite being in the national spotlight again, Hampikian is still teaching classes this fall. He has a number of students who want to follow in his career path.
“And a lot of people are interested in forensics. But really what I would tell people is -- no -- get interested in science. The reason I can do forensics is the same reason I can work on cancer.”
Hampikian hopes the DNA evidence he studied can eventually exonerate Williams.
Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill
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