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RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 11.09.12

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, Brad Christman and Matt Paul recap Election Night in Pennsylvania, and preview the potential conflict between Attorney General-Elect Kathleen Kane and Governor Tom Corbett.  Also, you’ll hear their experiences covering this past week’s scheduled execution, which was stayed at the 11th hour.  It would have been the state’s first execution since 1999.

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting on the top news stories of the week.

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Hubert Michael Avoids Thursday Execution

Hubert Michael, Junior, who was convicted for the brutal 1993 murder of a 16-year old girl in York County, sat in Rockview State Prison in Centre County last night as his death warrant expired. Last night’s scheduled execution was headed off by a stay issued by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier in the day which was later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court just hours before the death warrant expired at midnight.

Even after the Thursday afternoon stay was issued, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections officials continued to prepare for the execution while the state filed an emergency appeal. Michael was transported to the state prison at Rockview early Thursday morning and became “somewhat emotional” during the trip, according to Corrections officials. Once at Rockview, Michael refused a final meal, met with his attorney and his spiritual advisor, read a newspaper, listened to the radio and waited. He was quiet and polite throughout the day according to Department of Corrections spokesperson Susan McNaughton.

Outside the prison, a small group of protesters braved the chill of a November evening. Kathleen Lucas of the group Pennsylvanians For Alternatives to the Death Penalty said she traveled to Rockview because she opposed the state committing murder in her name. Lucas wants Pennsylvania to abolish the death penalty in favor of life sentences for murder. Another protester, a Penn State freshman, called Hubert Michael a “victim.”

Michael was convicted of the murder of 16-year old Trista Eng of Dillsburg. Prosecutors proved that Michael picked Eng up along the side of a road as she was walking to work in 1993. He took her to a remote area where she was shot three times. Prosecutors said there was also evidence of sexual assault. The body was dumped on state game lands near Dillsburg. The remains were discovered after Michael confessed the killing to his brother. The only motive uncovered involved Michael’s anger at being charged with rape in another unrelated case. He chose Eng at random, according to authorities who investigated the case.

The decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the stay was announced just a few hours before midnight. Until that point, Corrections officials said that the execution could begin as late as 11:59pm. It was originally scheduled for 7:00pm before the stay was issued early in the afternoon.

A new death warrant will have to be issued after the latest round of court battles is fought.

 

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Execution Remains Halted

The state Supreme Court has denied prosecutors’ request to lift a stay of execution for condemned killer Terrance Williams of Philadelphia.  Late last week Philadelphia Judge M. Teresa Sarmina blocked the scheduled October 3rd execution and ordered a new sentencing hearing in light of new evidence concerning the way prosecutors handled Williams’ 1986 murder trial.  Defense attorneys claim that Williams’ victims had been sexually abusing him.  This would have been Pennsylvania’s first execution since 1999, and Williams would have been the first person executed against his will in the state since the death penalty was reinstated 34-years ago.

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Philadelphia Judge Stays Execution, D-A Vows Appeal

A Philadelphia judge has halted Wednesday’s scheduled execution of death row inmate Terrance Williams and granted him a new sentencing hearing.  But prosecutors vow to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

The judge not only granted a stay of execution, she vacated the death sentence, which grants Williams a new penalty phase.  In the ruling, Judge M. Teresa Sarmina was critical of the way the prosecution handled the original trial in the 1984 murder that put Williams on death row.   The prosecution has denied any wrongdoing.

Williams still has a request for clemency pending before the state Pardons Board.  The board voted after a hearing on Thursday to take the request under advisement.

 

 

 

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 09.28.12

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, Brad Christman and Matt Paul update you on the stay of execution issued Friday for convicted killer Terrance Williams, who was scheduled to die by lethal injection at Rockview State Prison on Wednesday of the coming week. Former Radio PA Roundtable host Robert Lang (now of WBAL radio in Baltimore) joins the discussion and provides insight as a media witness to three executions in his career.

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting on the top news stories of the week.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:

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No Immediate Decision from Pardons Board

Pennsylvania’s five-member Board of Pardons voted 4 – 1 this morning to hear new arguments in the clemency application of a condemned killer from Philadelphia.  The hearing has concluded and the case has been taken under advisement. 

The board’s recommendation must be unanimous in order for the governor to be able to commute Terrance Williams’ sentence to life in prison without parole.  “With regard to a pardon or commutation, the governor at this point in time has no authority,” says Executive Deputy General Counsel Linda Hoffa. 

The board previously voted 3 – 2 for clemency last week.   

The only unilateral authority the governor has is to issue a temporary reprieve, but Hoffa says case law calls for it to be tied to a pending proceeding.  “It should not be open-ended and vague,” Hoffa explained to reporters on Wednesday.    

46-year-old Terrance “Terry” Williams was convicted in the beating death of Amos Norwood in 1986, the death penalty was imposed in 1987, and his appeals have been exhausted. 

However, Williams’ attorneys are now arguing that their client had been sexually abused by the man he murdered.  A Philadelphia judge has been hearing the new evidence, and is scheduled to rule on a stay of execution tomorrow. 

For now, Williams is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at State Correctional Institution at Rockview on October 3rd. If it is carried out it would be the state’s first execution since 1999, and the first execution involving a prisoner who had not given up his right to appeal since 1962.    

As major decisions loom in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, Williams remains locked up on the other end of the state, at SCI Greene.