Death row inmate files to reconsider clemency bid

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HARRISBURG -- Attorneys for death-row inmate Terrance Williams have filed a request for the Board of Pardons to reconsider its rejection of his clemency bid.

Three of the board's five members voted on Monday to recommend that Gov. Tom Corbett grant clemency, but a unanimous vote is required in sentences of death or life imprisonment. Williams, who was convicted in 1986 of first-degree murder, is scheduled to be executed on Oct. 3.

In their request for reconsideration, attorneys for Williams claim a representative of the Philadelphia district attorney's office was dishonest in his response to a question from a board member. When asked about allegations that prosecutors withheld evidence that they agreed to help Williams's co-defendant obtain parole in exchange for testimony, the attorneys wrote, Tom Dolgenos, chief of the federal litigation unit at the district attorney's office, answered that courts have heard and rejected the claim. The attorneys wrote that they recently obtained a letter from a prosecutor to the Board of Probation and Parole showing otherwise.

"The jury that sentenced Mr. Williams to death never heard about this consideration that [Marc] Draper was given in return for his testimony because the state suppressed this evidence and in fact presented false testimony to the contrary," the request states.

In a phone interview, Mr. Dolgenos disputed the claim and said there is no evidence of a deal between prosecutors and Draper, a co-defendant at Williams' trial, other than an agreement, described to the jury, that he would not face the death penalty if he testified truthfully.

"It's ridiculous," Mr. Dolgenos said. "What I told the board yesterday, that is absolutely true."

The attorneys for Williams asked the board to consider the request before its next scheduled hearing.

"Given that Mr. Williams is currently scheduled to be executed on October 3, 2012, and the next public hearing is not scheduled until December 12, 2012, Mr. Williams respectfully requests that the Board give this request expedited consideration so as not to render it moot," they wrote.

A Philadelphia judge has agreed to hear on Thursday a request for a stay of execution based on claims that Williams was sexually abused by the man he murdered and others.

breaking - state

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


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