Although Terry’s execution was stayed on Friday, September 28, by a state court, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office is still pursuing his execution for tomorrow, October 3rd, before his death warrant runs out at midnight..
The Board of Pardons should vote immediately to recommend clemency to the Governor who should grant it.
There has been unprecedented support for clemency for Terry. In addition to five former jurors who say that if they had all the information, they would not have voted for death, the victim’s widow also supports life in prison over death for Mr. Williams, as do dozens of child advocates, victims rights advocates, former judges and prosecutors, faith leaders, mental health professionals and others. The Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, has also expressed his support for clemency in Terry’s case. Over 375,000 people have signed a petition supporting clemency for Terry.
Contact the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons and Request They Act at Once!
See below for additional details of the case
A Case for Clemency: Terrance “Terry” Williams
On October 3, Terry Williams is scheduled to be executed by the Pennsylvania for a murder committed in 1984, when he was barley 18 years old. Mr. Williams would be the first involuntary execution in the state since 1962. The case has sparked widespread calls for a commutation to life without parole in light of evidence that Mr. Williams suffered a lifetime of physical, emotional and sexual abuse that began at age 6. He was abused by his mother and a series of “trusted” adults, including a teacher, and ultimately the two men he murdered, Herbert Hamilton and Amos Norwood.
Call for clemency rest on this trauma, as well as the fact that it was hidden from the jury. Supporters argue that Pennsylvania should not execute Terry Williams because:
- Terry suffered horrific sexual and physical abuse during his childhood and no one intervened to get him help when he was boy;
- The jury did not know about his history of childhood sexual abuse and trauma;
- The jury did not know that the men he killed were his abusers;
- Terry was only 18 years old at the time of the crime for which he was sentenced to death and the jury did not know about the psychological impact of sexual abuse on someone as young as Terry;
- Jurors did not know that he would never be eligible for parole;
- Jurors have stated that they would not have voted for death if they had known about his sexual abuse and ineligibility for parole; and
- The victim’s widow does not want Terry executed for her husband’s killing.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons have the power to intervene, stop the execution, and reduce Terry Williams’ sentence from death to life without the possibility of parole. Public calls for a commutation are increasing.
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and numerous other state coalitions against sexual violence and several human rights organizations joined 35 child advocates, 36 former prosecutors and judges, 48 law professors, 49 mental health professionals, and dozens of faith leaders in publicly calling for Terry’s death sentence to be commuted.
The supporters include Frank Cervone, Executive Director of the Support Center for Child Advocates ; Delilah Rumburg, CEO of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape; Sue Osthoff, Director of the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women; Wendy Aguirre, Executive Director for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Philadelphia; Charles Chaput, the Archbishop of Philadelphia; the European Union, and numerous organizations including Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the National Association of Social Workers, and the Pennsylvania Prison Society.
In addition, the Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment, a bipartisan group that includes state lawmakers, asked Republican Governor Corbett to postpone all planned executions until it completes a study of the death penalty and announces its findings in December 2013.
On Sept. 17, the Board of Pardons voted 3-2 in favor of clemency for Williams, but a unanimous recommendation is needed for the governor to grant a commutation. While the execution is still scheduled for October 3, a judge has agreed to an emergency hearing on September 20, to determine whether evidence of Williams’ history of sexual abuse was wrongfully with held at trial.