If the widow of Amos Norwood does not want the death penalty for Terrance Williams, the man that killed her husband, then why is he facing execution on October 3?

In August Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed a death warrant for Terrance Williams. Williams has been on death row for over two decades in Pennsylvania. At a hearing on Monday he walked into a hushed courtroom shackled at his hands and feet, surrounded by guards. Williams’ family and friends could scarcely see him from their seats in the second row. They are not asking for more than this: That their loved one be spared his life.

There are aspects of the case that are not denied. Mr. Williams did kill Mr. Norwood, they were involved in a sexual relationship and that Norwood would purchase alcohol and drugs for Williams either for or during their encounters. Yet, surprisingly little is made in consideration of Williams’ age at the time by the prosecution (Williams was between 13 and 18), despite the law in Pennsylvania stating that one person impairing the judgment of another person can constitute rape. As well, in Pennsylvania, second-degree statutory sexual assault is when a person 16 or younger engages in intercourse, out of wedlock, with some one four or more years older than themselves.

Mamie Norwood, the widow of Amos Norwood, has publicly asked for clemency for Williams. Her declaration to the court goes beyond any belief in the death penalty itself. “He is worthy of forgiveness,” she states, “and I am at peace with my decision to forgive him and have been for many years. I wish to see his life spared.” The lawyers representing the DA’s office at the hearing that day stated simply that for them Mrs. Norwood’s statement should not be a consideration of the court.

When mention was made of the Pennsylvania State Senate commissioned study of the death penalty last year, acknowledging serious flaws in the current system, the prosecution again stated there was no need to consider because of its proposed length and because it is not a legislative commissioned study.

This study commissioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee is a serious consideration with all of the flaws it highlights in the current system and since Williams would be the first non-volunteer execution in Pennsylvania in over half a century.

People on many sides of the death penalty issue have begun rallying to Terrance Williams, including some of the jurors that first sentenced him to death. At the very least Mr. Williams clearly deserves consideration of the newly exposed evidence during the two years Pennsylvania studies the death penalty. Two years does not seem like much to ask for to prove your case when the alternative is taking the life of a man, that as a teenager, was angry, hurt and confused by all the pain a life of serious abuse taught him.

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