Pardons board may take second vote in death penalty case
PHILADELPHIA -- The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons plans to meet Thursday to decide whether it will reconsider its recommendation against clemency for Terrance Williams ahead of his Oct. 3 execution.
After hearing arguments that Williams deserves clemency because he had been sexually abused by the man he murdered in 1984, as well as by other men, three of the five members of the board voted earlier this month to recommend that Gov. Tom Corbett grant clemency. Attorneys for Williams had urged that his death sentence be commuted to life in prison. But such a decision requires a unanimous vote by the board, so the 3-2 vote does not allow Mr. Corbett to act.
After a request by the federal defenders representing Williams, the board today agreed to meet at 9 a.m. Thursday in Harrisburg to decide whether it will hold a second hearing. If a majority approves, the board will hear the case again that afternoon.
A separate hearing in the case continued today in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, where attorneys for Williams are asking a judge to stay the execution on the grounds that prosecutors suppressed evidence that could have resulted in a lesser conviction.
Judge M. Teresa Sarmina heard testimony on Thursday from the prosecutor in the 1986 trial and Thursday and today from Marc Draper, the co-defendant in the murder.
The attorneys for Williams have sought to show that the prosecution knew of a sexual relationship between Williams and the murder victim, Amos Norwood, while the prosecutor said she sought such evidence and was unable to find it.
Draper testified today that he initially told a police officer about a sexual relationship between Mr. Norwood and Williams but was told the story was not credible and encouraged him to describe robbery as the motive.
The hearing adjourned in the early afternoon, and closing arguments are expected tomorrow morning. The decision of the judge can be appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
First Published September 24, 2012 5:09 pm