Philly Judge to Rule Friday on Execution Halt

Terrance "Terry" Williams is on death row for killing two men, a church deacon and high school sports booster, as a teenager.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Terrance Williams is scheduled to die by lethal injection next week.

    A Philadelphia judge plans to announce whether she'll halt the first execution in Pennsylvania since 1999.
     
    Terrance "Terry" Williams is on death row for killing two men, a church deacon and high school sports booster, as a teenager.
     
    Williams, 46, now says both men were sexually abusing him
    . And his lawyers say prosecutors hid that evidence from Williams' lawyer and the jury that sentenced him to death.
     
    Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina has agreed to weigh new evidence about the potential sex-abuse motive as she decides whether to stay the execution. Sarmina has taken two days of new testimony from the trial prosecutors and an accomplice.

    Her ruling, which is to be announced on Friday, is expected to be appealed to the state Supreme Court by the losing side.
     
    Meanwhile, the state Board of Pardons is separately considering a clemency petition.
     
    Williams is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Wednesday. He would become the first Pennsylvania inmate executed since 1962 who had not given up his appeals.
     
    Lawyers with the Federal Community Defenders Office in Philadelphia say the sex-abuse evidence might have steered the jury toward a life sentence, if not a different verdict on guilt.
     
    Philadelphia prosecutors deny any wrongdoing in Williams' 1986 trial. And current District Attorney Seth Williams calls him "a brutal, two-time murderer."
     
    Williams, a high school quarterback turned local college student, now admits he was having sex with older men in exchange for money and gifts. He said he had been molested by Norwood since he was 13.
     
    Both accomplice Marc Draper, a policeman's son, and the trial prosecutor, Andrea Foulkes, gave new testimony before Sarmina in recent days. Draper said that he was promised a chance at parole if he told jurors the Norwood slaying was a robbery, not a sex-related crime.
     
    He testified accordingly, but is serving a life term for felony murder. He said he did not understand that lifers in Pennsylvania are never eligible for parole.
     
    Several Norwood jurors said they also misunderstood that when they sentenced Williams to death. Five jurors now support his bid for clemency, as does Norwood's widow.
     
    Foulkes denied promising Draper a shorter sentence, or withholding evidence from jurors or the defense.
     
    Now a federal prosecutor, she worked at the time under then-Philadelphia District Attorney Ronald Castille. Castille, who signed off on Williams' death-penalty case, now serves as chief justice of the state Supreme Court, which may ultimately decide Williams' fate.