When Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina stayed the execution of Terry Williams, she dealt a blow to the death penalty in Pennsylvania. Now the public has caught a glimpse of prosecutorial misconduct and evidence suppression in the application of the death penalty, and it isn't pretty.
In her order, Judge Sarmina -- a former prosecutor -- issued a scathing indictment of the prosecutor in that case for hiding evidence that Amos Norwood was allegedly, a sexual predator who had molested Williams and other children.
Sarmina said "evidence has plainly been suppressed," and accused former assistant D.A. Andrea Foulkes of engaging in "gamesmanship" and "playing fast and loose." The judge also said Foulkes "had no problem disregarding her ethical obligations" in an attempt to win.
With 200 people condemned to death, Pennsylvania has the fourth largest death row in America. With no voluntary executions in the state in half a century, the tragic story of Terry Williams has reopened the debate on capital punishment. We do not know how many of death row inmates would be free or serving a lesser sentence, but for an ethically challenged prosecutor who believed in winning over seeking justice. Given what we know, now is as good a time as any to shut down Pennsylvania's broken death machine.
Earlier coverage of Terry Williams case begins at the link