Judge halts execution of Terrance Williams, DA will appeal [updated]

    A Philadelphia judge has halted Wednesday’s scheduled execution of death-row inmate Terrance “Terry” Williams and granted him a new sentencing hearing, but there will be an appeal.

    Just five days before his scheduled execution, Judge M. Teresa Sarmina said prosecutors suppressed evidence that Williams’ victim was an alleged pedophile who abused boys, including Williams.

    However, Sarmina upheld Williams’ first-degree murder conviction.

    Williams’ lawyers say police and prosecutors withheld evidence about the sexual link between him and victim Amos Norwood, so the jury never heard about it before voting for a death sentence.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    Philadelphia prosecutors deny any wrongdoing in the 1986 trial.

    “What she found is that that would have changed the verdict at the penalty phase and that the jury would not have voted for death if they knew those things,” said William’s attorney Shawn Nolan.

    The District Attorney’s office will appeal.

    “The defendant has never expressed to me remorse or guilt for what took place on that fatal night in June 1984,” Barbara Norwood Harris wrote in an impact statement. Her father, Amos Norwood, was Williams’ alleged pedophile. “I along with others do not know any child molestations or rapes the men committed against the defendant. Even if those falsehoods or lies were true, what gives the defendant the right to torment, assault, rob, terrorize and burn my father beyond recognition?”

    Williams’ case is also before the Pennsylvania State Board of Pardons.

    Williams would be the first person executed involuntarily in Pennsylvania since 1962.

    WHYY reporter Emma Jacobs will have more information on this breaking news story.



    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal