28 September 2012

Judge issues a stay of execution for Terrance Williams

Good news: This morning, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge M. Theresa Samina stayed the execution of Terrance Williams, who was scheduled to die on October 3. This ruling comes after a hearing earlier this week to explore new evidence surrounding the murder for which Williams was convicted.

During his original trial, the defense had failed to mention the fact that Williams, who was barely 18 years old at the time of the murder, had endured years of sexual abuse by the man he later killed. In fact, Williams had been abused by older men since he was six years old, and the abuse continued throughout his adolescence. But the jury never heard about this.

Five of the former jurors in the Williams case are now saying that they would not have voted for the death penalty if they had known about the sexual abuse. Furthermore, some said they voted for execution only because they thought the alternative would be life with the possibility of parole. (In fact, the alternative would have been life without the possibility of parole.) The victim's widow has even called for clemency.

Fortunately, someone was listening. Kudos to Judge Samina for choosing life over death in today's ruling.

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