Clemency bid rejected for Pennsylvania death-row inmate
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HARRISBURG -- The state Board of Pardons has rejected an application for clemency 16 days ahead of the scheduled execution of Terrance Williams.
The five-member board heard two hours of testimony before voting 3-2 in favor of clemency. But a unanimous vote is required to recommend clemency to the governor in cases with a sentence of death or life imprisonment, so the application was denied.
Williams was convicted in 1986 of first-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy in the death of Amos Norwood. Williams is now 46. His execution has been scheduled for Oct. 3.
Shawn Nolan, a federal public defender, told the pardons board this afternoon that Williams deserves clemency because he was sexually abused since childhood by a series of men, including Mr. Norwood. He cited statements from jurors in the case that they would not have chosen the death penalty had they known both of evidence of sexual abuse and that a life sentence would include no possibility of parole.
Tom Dolgenos, chief of the federal litigation unit at the Philadelphia district attorney's office, countered that Williams had lied throughout his interactions with the legal system for that and other crimes. He said the board should consider that decades of litigation had failed to reverse the death sentence.
Attorney General Linda Kelly voted to recommend clemency to Gov. Tom Corbett, while Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley voted to deny it.
A Philadelphia judge has agreed to hear testimony Thursday about the claims of sexual abuse.
First Published September 17, 2012 4:52 pm