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October 4, 2012

Pennsylvania not really yet ready to get machinery of death started again

In this prior post from a few months ago, I wondered "Might Pennsylvania finally get serious about carrying out death sentences?".  As revealed by this new local article, which is headlined "Pa. court spares inmate from execution," the answer would now seem to be not quite yet.  Here is how the piece starts:

Terrance "Terry" Williams spent a day on death row waiting for a call that never came. Williams feared he'd be shipped across the state to be executed on Wednesday, the first person sent to the death chamber in Pennsylvania since 1999. But the call never came. Instead, his defense lawyers phoned him that afternoon to say the state Supreme Court had in effect halted the execution.

A state judge last week granted a stay of execution, and the court said it wouldn't overturn her decision before Williams' death warrant expired at midnight. The court plans to review Williams' case over time.

"Today was a very scary day for Terry because the stay could have been lifted, and he could have been taken to Rockview and executed," defense lawyer Shawn Nolan said. "He's very relieved."

Williams, of Philadelphia, admits killing two men in his teens, but now contends both men were sexually abusing him.

Five days before his execution, a state judge found that prosecutors withheld evidence from Williams' capital murder trial in 1986, including evidence the victim in that case was molesting teen boys. Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina tossed out Williams' death sentence on Friday but upheld his first-degree murder conviction.

If her ruling stands, a new jury could again condemn Williams to death, or sentence him to life without parole. Williams, 46, has been on death row for nearly three decades. He would have been the first person executed in Pennsylvania in 50 years who had not given up his appeals.

District Attorney Seth Williams, no relation to the defendant, insists Terry Williams is the rare defendant deserving of the death penalty, and prosecutors complained in a response Wednesday that his appeals have tied up the court system long enough.

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October 4, 2012 at 10:49 AM | Permalink


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Williams got on the stand and swore that he didn't know Norwood. That alone should estop him from any arguments along these lines. He should be bound by his testimony.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 4, 2012 12:59:19 PM

"Pennsylvania not really yet ready to get machinery of death started again."

Actually, the machinery of death is doing quite well in Pennsylvania. Last year, there were over 600 murders there.

If you mean the machinery for carrying out legal and fully deserved sentences is not yet ready to get started, yup, I agree with that. But much the same thing could have been said only a few years ago about neighboring Ohio.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 4, 2012 1:58:52 PM

Williams, Draper and the attorneys sat on this
"Evidence" all these years and waited until the state and federal appeals were concluded, then spun their stories.

The amazing thing is the Commonwealth judge bought it and 3 members of the Parole Board urged clemency. Williams killed before the Norwood incident. This is a perfect case where the death penalty should be imposed.

Posted by: DaveP | Oct 4, 2012 4:20:02 PM

The most amazing thing is the decision to overturn Williams death sentence. Near as I can tell, the judge in this case based her decision in the Norwood case on nothing more than the word of Draper. Draper is a murderer and armed robber who lied and changed his story over the years and lied in his testimony before her court by claiming that not only was the Norwood murder about revenge rather than robbery but that they HAD NEVER COMMITTED A ROBBERY DURING THEIR CRIME SPREE. In fact they committed at least four. Am I missing something?

Posted by: MikeinCT | Oct 4, 2012 4:30:16 PM

Both of them sat in prison all these years with "bombshell evidence" withheld by the state and never did anything until now. Were William's attorneys counting on the 3rd Circuit to overturn the death sentence and then had to implement Plan B?

Posted by: DaveP | Oct 4, 2012 4:47:35 PM

Isn't it funny how none of the libs will come and defend this stay? Come on guys. Step up.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 5, 2012 9:40:01 AM

Abolitionists such as Jose Baez believe
'the end justifies the means', they live and breathe
'by all means necessary', and they epitomize
'by hook or by crook'.

It is simply more effective for such not to attempt to defend the inexpiable, to rationalize the unredeemable.

Posted by: Adamakis | Oct 5, 2012 10:28:31 AM

Agreed Adamakis.

Where's our old friend Joe?

Posted by: federalist | Oct 5, 2012 10:42:38 AM

Juries are becoming more and more reluctant to impose death.

On September 27, 2012 a federal jury in Puerto Rico rejected the death penalty for Edison Burgos Montes, who was convicted in August of the murder of his girlfriend in 2005. The jury deliberated for two days before sentencing Montes to life in prison for this drug-related crime. Puerto Rico's constitution forbids capital punishment, but U.S. prosecutors can seek the death penalty under federal law. This is the fourth capital case tried by U.S. authorities since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988. None of the cases has resulted in a death sentence. Governor Luis Fortuno and Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico's sole representative to the U.S. Congress, spoke out recently against the death penalty. In addition, one of the candidates for governor, Senator Alejandro Garcia Padilla, promised to try to stop the use of the federal death penalty for Puerto Rico residents. There also have been popular demonstrations against this use of the death penalty in the Commonwealth.

Posted by: anon16 | Oct 6, 2012 8:47:56 PM

Anon 16: : / Puerto Rico is an island that banned capital punishment 80 years ago. /

So, Puerto Ricans/Boricuans don't believe in proportional punishment for murderers.
Perhaps they should reconsider.

In 2010, "Most industrialized countries had homicide rates below the 2.5 mark."
In 2011, the homicide rate excluding minorities in the...

U.S. is 2.0 (1.98),
Asia is 3.1,
Europe is 3.5 ;

with minorities,
U.S. is 4.2,
Africa is 17.0.

PUERTO RICO 26.2 (2010)
Dominican Republic 25.0
Mexico 22.7 (2010)
Brazil 21.0 (2010)

(UNODC murder rates per 100,00 most recent year) http://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/statistics/crime/Homicide_statistics2012.xls

Posted by: Adamakis | Oct 8, 2012 10:23:16 AM


In 2010, "Most industrialized countries had homicide rates below the 2.5 mark."
In 2011, the homicide rate excluding minorities in the...
U.S. is 2.0 (1.98), Asia is 3.1, Europe is 3.5;

with minorities,
U.S. is 4.7, Africa is 17.0.

South Africa: 31.8 with reconciliation (but no DP)
United States: 4.7 no reconciliation
{www.unodc.org/ {rate per 100,000}

Posted by: Adamakis | Oct 21, 2013 1:57:50 PM

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