Archive: September, 2012
Monday and Tuesday could see a burst of last-minute legal activity as Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court decides whether to affirm or reverse Friday’s ruling staying Wednesday’s scheduled execution of condemned Philadelphia killer Terrance Williams.
Legally, as of now Williams’ death sentence for the 1984 murder of Amos Norwood, 56, is on hold. But that could change in an instant if the state’s high court reverses the stay by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office filed the emergency motion with the Supreme Court hours after Sarmina’s ruling but since then, according to the court’s website, nothing: no orders for the filing of legal briefs, scheduling of a hearing, response of any kind.
Ten days -- that’s how much time Terrance “Terry” Williams has left before his Oct. 3 execution by lethal injection and Monday may be the most important of those days.
Monday will be the final day of testimony on a motion for an emergency stay of execution before Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina. And Williams’ fate arguably rests in the ability of his admitted accomplice in the June, 11, 1984 murder of Amos Norwood to convince Sarmina that Williams killed in a rage over sexual abuse by Norwood and not in the robbery that convinced a jury to sentence him to death.
Williams’ team of lawyers have argued that Williams’ immaturity at the time of the Norwood killing – just three months past 18, the minimum age for execution in the United States – and the alleged suppression of a history of sexual abuse by Norwood and others -- would have convinced the jury to sentence him to life in prison instead of death.
Publicly, the new Philadelphia judge assigned to preside over the trial of the Rev. Charles Engelhardt and former parochial school teacher Bernard Shero – charged with sexually assaulting the same 10-year-old altar boy in 1998 and 1999 – told lawyers on Friday that the trial would start Oct. 22 and that was a “date certain.”
That’s legal jargon for drop-dead, take-it-to-the-bank, be-there-or-be-in-handcuffs certain.
And it was. For almost two hours.
For a reporter, it wasn’t hard to choose which of the 160-plus people to focus on who signed in support of Thursday’s petition seeking clemency for condemned killer Terrance “Terry” Williams.
Williams, 46, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Oct. 3.
After all, how many times do you see a compelling plea for the life of a killer by the widow of the man he brutally beat to death and then set the corpse on fire?