Condemned to die Oct. 3, Terrance Williams is denied clemency

A convicted murderer from Philadelphia has been denied a request for clemency, and his scheduled Oct. 3 execution remains on track.


A unanimous vote from the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons is required to suggest to the governor that Terrance Williams not be executed.


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The vote was three-to-two in favor of a life sentence without parole.

Tom Dolgenos of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office said Monday he was surprised three votes were cast against putting Williams to death.

“I think it’s pretty clear that the board took it seriously and thought about it and obviously, they were concerned and I think the outcome was correct,” he said.

Defense attorneys now turn their attention to an emergency hearing scheduled for Thursday in the Court of Common Pleas.

They’re asking for a stay of execution, arguing new testimony supports claims from Williams the two men he killed in Philadelphia as an 18-year-old in 1984 had sexually abused him for years, and prosecutors kept evidence of that abuse out of court.

Defense attorneys argue that Williams should not be killed, because his crimes were the acts of a young man in pain. They made repeated references to the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse case, in which commonwealth attorneys argued on behalf of children.

But Dolgenos says there’s a lot to distinguish the Sandusky case from that of Williams.

“He is a murderer and now an admitted murderer. He didn’t admit it until about a month ago,” Dolgenos said. “But at this point, it serves his interest and there just isn’t much evidence other than hearsay. In fact there’s no evidence other than hearsay that the abuse that he talks about actually occurred.”

If the execution is carried out, Williams, 46, would be the first man the state has put to death in more than a decade.

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