PA pardons board rejects clemency for Williams

  • Terrance "Terry" Williams was convicted ofa 1984 murder.
             Terrance “Terry” Williams


A divided Pennsylvania Board of Pardons voted against clemency for convicted Philadelphia killer Terrance “Terry” Williams in the 1984 killing of Mount Airy churchman Amos Norwood.


In order for the clemency recommendation to proceed the board would have needed to vote unanimously in the decision.


The 3-2 vote in favor of clemency by the five-member board came after a 90-minute hearing and 35 minutes of private deliberations over whether it should make a nonbinding recommendation to Gov. Corbett to commute Williams’ Oct. 3 execution by lethal injection to life in prison without chance of parole.


In seeking clemency, Williams’ lawyers cited his youth at Norwood’s murder – three months over 18, the minimum age for execution – and that Williams was sexually abused by Norwood and several other men.


With Williams’ state and federal appeals exhausted all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, the 46-year-old former Germantown High School quarterback’s last hope of escaping becoming the first person executed in Pennsylvania in 13 years lies in a hearing Thursday before Philadelphia Common Pleas M. Teresa Sarmina.


Since Sept. 7, when they filed the motion for clemency before the Pardons Board, Williams’ lawyers have been involved in a legal and public campaign to show that he should not be executed because the Philadelphia jury that condemned him did not know of years of sexual abuse at the hands of his victim and other men.


Williams’ lawyers have obtained the support of Norwood’s 75-year-old widow, Mamie Norwood, in pleading for his life. And they have obtained three sworn statements this year from his admitted accomplice in the Norwood killing.


Those statements by Marc Draper, like Williams just 18 at the time of the killings, maintain that he told police Williams killed Norwood in a rage over his sexual abuse at the hands of the Episcopal church deacon and choir leader.


Instead, Draper now says, police told him to testify that the murder was part of a robbery and the prosecutor assured him of support in seeking parole if he stuck to the robbery story at trial.

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