The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold a stay of execution for Terrance Williams hasn’t taken the convicted murderer off death row.
But lawyers aren’t yet sure when, or if, a new date will be set for his execution.
Lawyers were racing the clock in the case of Williams the minute his death warrant was signed in early August, setting an Oct. 3 execution.
The sentence of death by lethal injection was halted by a Philadelphia judge who ruled evidence was suppressed in the trial that led to Williams receiving the death penalty.
The state Supreme Court then ruled to uphold the stay.
Victor Abreu, one of Williams’ attorneys, says the court must still decide whether to uphold the lower court’s ruling that Williams must receive a new sentencing hearing.
“If the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturns the grant of a new sentencing hearing, that could be a moment that would trigger a new warrant as well,” Abreu said. “And the stay is vacated, that could trigger a new warrant as well.”
Lawyers are awaiting an order from the state’s high court to submit summaries of their arguments, which will give them some idea of the new timeline of the case.
Williams was convicted for the 1984 murder of a man his lawyers say sexually abused him.
Judge Teresa Sarmina, who stopped Williams’ execution, says he should get a new sentence from a jury that is presented with evidence of the abuse.
Had the original jurors heard that evidence, Sarmina has said, they wouldn’t have imposed the death sentence.