Condemned killer Terrance "Terry" Williams was back in Philadelphia on Monday, sitting quietly, hands and feet shackled, as lawyers tried to persuade a Philadelphia judge to block his Oct. 3 execution.
Sounding skeptical, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina listened to two hours of vigorous argument by Williams' lawyers and prosecutors.
Sarmina then gave Williams' team until Friday to supplement their claim of newly discovered evidence that Williams killed Amos Norwood in 1984 after years of sexual abuse - not to rob him.
Sarmina told defense attorneys Billy Nolas and Shawn Nolan she considered their new evidence - a 2012 statement by Marc Draper, Williams' confessed accomplice - too vague for a late plea to stay the execution.
"What's the basis of Draper's knowledge?" asked Sarmina. "That doesn't make it so just because someone says it."
Deputy District Attorney Ronald Eisenberg told Sarmina that nothing in Williams' petition was new and that his claims of sexual abuse had been rejected by state and federal appeals courts.
The pardons board will privately interview Williams on Thursday and hold a public hearing Monday in Harrisburg. The five-member board must unanimously recommend clemency for Corbett to consider the nonbinding recommendation.
Corbett signed Williams' death warrant Aug. 9 in what would be the state's first execution since 1999.
At issue before Sarmina is a sworn Jan. 9 statement by Draper, 46, who pleaded guilty to participating in Norwood's killing and became the key prosecution witness against Williams at his 1986 trial.
"Judge: More evidence needed on Pa. inmate's motion," is the AP coverage of the hearing, via the Beaver Times.
A judge wants more evidence by Thursday before ruling on a motion to stay the scheduled Oct. 3 execution of a Philadelphia man on death row.
Terrance Williams was sentenced to death for killing Amos Norwood with a tire iron at age 18, months after killing another man. He's exhausted his appeals, which reached a federal appeals court.
But his lawyers now say there's new evidence a co-defendant involved in the 1984 killing can corroborate his abuse claims. They say the jury might have spared Williams the death penalty had that come out.
Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina said she needs more than the co-defendant's simple statement to reopen the case. She wants to know how the co-defendant would have known about the abuse. However, she agreed the jury might have been interested in the claim.
Sarmina said she has handled three cases that ended with a death sentence.
"Where the victim is not a sympathetic victim, a jury is much less likely to come back with a sentence of death," Sarmina said.
Philadelphia prosecutors oppose the request for a new evidence hearing. They argue that Williams, now 46, is simply trying to push back his execution date.
Earlier coverage of Terry Williams' case begins at the link.
Advocates for Terry Williams have posted an online petition calling for clemency. You can find out more about the case and read the entire clemency petition filed with Pennsylvania Board of Pardons.
Related posts are in the clemency index.