It has been half a century since the last contested execution in Pennsylvania, and as a result there have been few if any capital clemency hearings in several decades. The reason this particular case was before the Parole Board is simple: it is the only one in which a sentence of death has finally been affirmed through all levels of judicial review. From the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, through the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, to the United States District Court, to the United States court of Appeals, up to the United States Supreme Court, all upheld Williams death penalty conviction
After 28 years of legal proceedings, Terrance Williams is trying to circumvent the judicial process by way of the pardons process. This effort is especially inappropriate in light of his violent history. The defendant has a long record of manipulative and malevolent behavior which eventually led to the deaths of two men.
Now as a last ditch effort to escape punishment for his crime, Williams is claiming he was raped by Amos Norwood the night before he killed Mr. Norwood. In the 28 years since the murder of Amos Norwood these new allegations only came to light just a few months ago, and he is not the one making the allegations. That is the striking thing about not just these new allegations, but about all of Williams’ allegations of sexual abuse: none of them come directly from Williams himself. Not once has Williams actually testified under oath about all the abuse he allegedly suffered. He has never even submitted an affidavit about it. Instead the allegations have generally been offered through friends and experts who were “told” about the allegations. This is not only hearsay; it is double hearsay, even triple hearsay in some instances.
My office was able to reach Mr. Norwood’s daughter right before this hearing took place and she expressed her desire that the original sentence be upheld, and that Terrance Williams be executed for the murder of her father. The defense was unable to convince the parole board to reach a unanimous decision in the case, and therefore clemency was denied today.