Philadelphia judge puts execution on hold; appeal planned

Terrance Williams was scheduled for execution in just five days. Today a Philadelphia court judge put that on hold and ordered a re-sentencing hearing for the violent murder Williams committed in 1984.

 

“We’re going to go have a call with him right now. And he’ll be extremely happy, obviously,” said Shawn Nolan, Williams’ attorney, outside the Philadelphia courthouse after Judge Teresa Sarmina read her verdict.  Nolan was gratifed that Judge Teresa Sarmina said suppressed evidence would have made a difference.

“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,” Nolan said.

In 1986 Terrance Williams was convicted of murdering Amos Norwood and sentenced to death. In his appeals, he has since said Norwood sexually abused him.

His latest appeal has revealed new documents in the files of police and prosecutors, suggesting Norwood had made sexual advances on other teens. Judge Sarmina faulted the prosecutor for withholding that evidence at the penalty phase of Williams’ trial.

District Attorney Seth Williams says his office will appeal the ruling to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

“This defendant has on multiple occasions created different facts, different scenarios as to what happened that day,” said Williams.

The DA’s office released a statement from the victim’s daughter, it reads, in part:

“The Defendant has never expressed to me remorse or guilt for what took place on that fatal night in June 1984. What I do recall is that my life and the lives of others around me drastically changed for the worse.”

For now, Williams will not be executed Wednesday, unless the Supreme Court intervenes.

His case is also before Pennsylvania’s board of pardons, but there’s no clear timeline for when that body will issue a decision.

 

 

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

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.