In a week full of legal wrangling over the scheduled October 3 execution of Terrance Williams, the bipartisan Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment issued a statement today concerning the pending execution.

 

“Carrying out an execution before our work is completed over the next fifteen months would greatly undermine the legislative intent of Senate Resolution 6 – a comprehensive study of the effectiveness of capital punishment in Pennsylvania, as it pertains to cost, fairness, proportionality, impact, and many other factors.” Republican Senator Stewart Greenleaf and Democratic Senator Daylin Leach endorse the letter along with a dozen fellow committee members.

 

The committee adds its letter to the growing number of endorsements to reconsider the case against Mr. Williams from the victims’ widow, former jurors, former prosecutors, faith leaders and others. A petition for Mr. Williams’ clemency has reached upwards of 16,000 signatures on change.org.

 

A Philadelphia Court is to decide tomorrow whether to grant an evidentiary hearing requested by Mr. Williams’ attorneys.

 

Williams is now 46. When he was 18 years old, he murdered Amos Norwood, then in his 50s, a man that had taken advantage of and sexually abused Williams since he was approximately 13 years old. The District Attorney’s Office does not deny the existence of the sexual relationship between the two. They maintain that the teenaged Williams committed prostitution by accepting alcohol and drugs from Norwood and allude to that acceptance as consent, despite his age, and deny Williams’ allegations that he was forcibly raped a number of times by Norwood.

 

None of the information about the sexual relationship between Norwood and Williams was presented at the initial murder trial. Williams was previously convicted of the murder of 50 year old Herbert Hamilton. The jury in that case was made aware of Hamilton’s attempt at a sexual relationship with the 18 year old Williams and convicted him of third degree murder in that case. A third degree murder conviction does not allow for the death penalty in Pennsylvania.

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