Shawn Nolan has issued a, "Statement from Attorneys for Terry Williams in Response to the Stay of Execution and Vacation of Death Sentence." Here's the full text:
“On behalf of Terry Williams, we are extremely pleased that Judge Sarmina, after carefully considering all of the evidence in this case, has vacated the death sentence based on misconduct by the prosecution. Her decision was right and well-reasoned. As prosecutor for more than 10 years and a judge who likely presided over more than a hundred homicide trials, Judge Sarmina certainly understands how the prosecution misled the jury in this case. The Philadelphia District Attorney should stop their appeals and stop fighting to have Terry executed.
The District Attorney’s very own files were replete with evidence from as early as 1984 of predatory, exploitive and abusive acts by Herbert Hamilton and Amos Norwood against Terry Williams and other teenage boys. It is legally and ethically unconscionable that Seth Williams and his Assistants have been advocating for the execution of Terry Williams after hiding critical evidence from jurors and continuing to hide it for 28 years.
Judge Sarmina found that the trial prosecutor engaged in misconduct. She found that the prosecutor 'played games and took unfair measures to win.' She also noted that the prosecutor violated her ethical duty for failing to turn over evidence in the files in the possession of the Commonwealth.
If the DA appeals, we are confident that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will not overturn Judge Sarmina’s well-reasoned decision, and do not believe that the Court will tolerate the prosecutor’s actions in this case, especially when life or death are at issue.
We are also hopeful that Governor Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons will now grant clemency in light of Judge Sarmina’s decision and the significance of the evidence that prosecutors kept from the Board during their life or death deliberations. A majority of the Board, including Attorney General Linda Kelly, previously voted in favor of clemency. Surely, after considering the new evidence, they will not allow this execution to go forward.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer's updated coverage is, "DA vows to appeal execution stay," by Joseph A. Slobodzian.
Criticizing the prosecutor for "gamesmanship" and withholding evidence that would have likely convinced the jury not to impose a death sentence, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina today stayed Wednesday's execution of condemned killer Terrance Williams.
District Attorney Seth Williams vowed an appeal to the state Supreme Court.
Sarmina, in a 45-minute oral opinion delivered to a courtroom packed beyond its 71-person capacity, said evidence that was withheld about the sexual proclivities of Williams' victim Amos Norwood, and the extent of the prosecution's deal with admitted accomplice Marc Draper had undermined confidence in the fairness of Williams' 1986 death sentence.
Sarmina, however, affirmed the guilty verdict against Williams in Norwood's murder. She said the District Attorney's office had the option of conducting a new penalty phase for Williams if it still wished to seek the death penalty.
Terrance Williams' attorney Shawn Nolan praised Sarmina's ruling and said it is "time for the District Attorney's office to end the appeals."
The prosecutors could file an emergency challenge to Sarmina's ruling with the state Supreme Court and the state's high court could reinstate Williams' Oct. 3 execution date.
Andrea Foulkes, the assistant district attorney who prosecuted Williams in two murder trial in 1985 and 1986, could not be reached for comment.
The Harrisburg Patriot-News also updates coverage with, "Philadelphia D.A. to appeal ruling that halted inmate's execution," by Donald Gilliland.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams criticized the ruling today that stayed Terrance Williams' execution and will appeal the decision.
Terrance Williams had been scheduled to die by lethal injection Wednesday for killing two men. His lawyers are not challenging his guilt, but asking that he remain in prison on a life sentence. They contend that Williams had been sexually abused from the time he was a child, including by the victims.
Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina ruled that the prosecution in Williams' 1986 murder trial withheld evidence and sanitized witness statements to police before handing them over to the defense.
Seth Williams said that her ruling is unjust and has instructed his staff to file an immediate appeal.
"Evidence has plainly been suppressed," said Sarmina, who was especially tough on prosecutor Andrea Foulkes, who is now a U.S. Attorney. Sarmina said Foulkes "had no problem disregarding her ethical obligations" in an attempt to win.
Earlier coverage of Terry Williams' case begins at the link.