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.

Williams Execution Scheduled for Wednesday

Pennsylvania may issue its first lethal injection in 13 years next week. Condemned killer Terrance Williams is scheduled to be executed at Rockview State Prison in Centre County at 7:00pm on October 3rd. Williams was convicted for two murders in the 1980s and has exhausted most of his appeals.

A stay or temporary reprieve is still possible before Wednesday’s scheduled execution, either from the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, which is meeting today, or from a Philadelphia judge who is currently considering new information in the case and could issue a stay on Friday.

Pennsylvania has not executed a death row inmate since “House of Horrors” killer Gary Heidnik was put to death in 1999. He is one of only three inmates to receive a lethal injection since the death penalty was reinstated in Pennsylvania in 1978. Leon Moser and Keith Zettlemoyer were also put to death in PA in 1995, but all three had waived their rights to certain appeals. Williams would be the first person executed against his will since the reinstatement 34 years ago.