Pennsylvania pardons board delays action on clemency for Terrance Williams

Judge expected to rule Friday on request to stop execution

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HARRISBURG -- The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons put off a vote on recommending clemency for convicted murderer Terrance Williams a day before a judge is expected to rule on efforts to stop his Oct. 3 execution.

At an initial hearing last week, three of the panel's five members voted to recommend clemency, falling short of the unanimous vote needed for Gov. Tom Corbett to act.

Attorneys for Williams argue he should not be put to death because the man he killed in 1984, when Williams was 18, had sexually abused him for years.

Judge M. Teresa Sarmina of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas has said she will announce her decision Friday morning on a request to stop the execution.

In a three-day hearing that concluded Tuesday, a team of federal defenders claimed prosecutors who tried Williams kept from the jury and the defense evidence that the murder victim, Amos Norwood, had sexual relationships with boys. They argued a jury told that Williams was motivated by sexual abuse, rather than robbery, would not have reached a death sentence.

An attorney with the Philadelphia district attorney's office told the Board of Pardons this afternoon there remains no evidence that Norwood abused Williams.

The board deliberated for about 15 minutes before unanimously voting to hold the case under advisement. Attorneys for both sides said they were satisfied with the vote.

It was not immediately clear what action, if any, the board may take after the judge issues a decision.

breaking - state

Karen Langley: klangley@post-gazette.com or 717-787-2141


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