Pennsylvania's top court has denied prosecutors' emergency petition in a death penalty appeal, meaning Terrance Williams will not be executed tonight.
The 46-year-old Williams has a stay of his scheduled execution, which is the first in Pennsylvania in more than a decade. A state judge has vacated his death sentence and ordered a new sentencing hearing after finding last week that prosecutors hid evidence at his 1986 trial.
Judge M. Teresa Sarmina said prosecutors suppressed evidence that Williams' victim was an alleged pedophile who abused boys, including Williams, so jurors were not aware of those allegations when they voted to impose the death penalty.
But Philadelphia prosecutors appealed to the state's high court to overturn that ruling and reinstate the death penalty in time to execute Williams on Wednesday. The court rejected the appeal.
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Williams, 46, of Philadelphia, was sentenced to death in 1987 for the bludgeoning murder of an older man. He lives at Greene state prison in southwestern Pennsylvania in a single cell where he spends up to 22 hours a day and is allowed only non-contact visits.
Governor Tom Corbett now has 30 days to issue a new death warrant, to be carried out within 60 days, unless Williams is pardoned or granted a life sentence.