As you may know, on September 17, a three member majority of the
Pennsylvania Board of Pardons voted to grant clemency to Mr. Williams.
Notably, the members of the Board who voted in favor of clemency were the
three who are most familiar with victims of sexual abuse and victims
generally – Attorney General Linda Kelly, the Victim’s Representative, and
the Board’s mental health expert. Unfortunately, under current
Pennsylvania law a unanimous Board recommendation for clemency is necessary
to reach the Governor’s desk. See:
Nevertheless, we still have hope.
On September 20, Judge Teresa Sarmina of the Philadelphia Court of Common
Pleas began hearing testimony regarding Mr. Williams’ claim that the
prosecution withheld evidence from the jury about the true motive for the
killings in this case. As we have always alleged, Mr. Williams did not kill
Mr. Hamilton or Mr. Norwood for money. He killed them in an explosion of
pain and rage borne from the years of sexual abuse at their hands and at
the hands of others.
As you may know, for weeks now, District Attorney Seth Williams and his
Assistants have been arguing that the only evidence in support of Terry
Williams’ claims of sexual abuse by the men he killed are self-serving
hearsay statements from Terry, and that these allegations are simply a
last-ditch effort to save his life. However, at the hearing, numerous
pieces of evidence relevant to Terry Williams’ claims, which had been
hidden by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office for nearly three
decades, finally emerged. Indeed, since 1984, the District Attorney’s
files have been replete with evidence of predatory, exploitive and abusive
acts by Herbert Hamilton and Amos Norwood. This was proven in court.
The jury that convicted Terry Williams and sentenced him to death for the
murder of Amos Norwood believed that Mr. Norwood was a stranger to Terry.
Terry met his lawyer one day before the trial. As a teenager on trial for
his life, he was not able to disclose the truth about the abuse he
suffered. However, in the years since Terry began sharing his history with
mental health professionals, prosecutors have consistently maintained, in
appeal after appeal, that there was no evidence of the sexually abusive
relationship between the teenaged Terry and Mr. Norwood, who was in his
fifties. We now know that evidence was in the DA’s file for the last 28
Additionally, on September 18, we filed a request for reconsideration with
the Board of Pardons.
was necessary because the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office provided
an inaccurate response to the only question asked by the Board’s
Corrections Representative, who later voted against recommending clemency
to the Governor. The question related to a claim pending before Judge
Sarmina regarding an undisclosed deal with prosecutors for leniency in
sentencing for Mr. Williams’ co-defendant. The DA stated that there was no
merit to the claim and there was no such deal. That is patently false.
In fact, during Thursday's hearing before Judge Sarmina, the trial
prosecutor acknowledged that she failed to disclose to Mr. Williams’
defense attorney that she had made a deal with Mr. Williams’ co-defendant
in exchange for his testimony at the Norwood trial. After acknowledging
her failure, she said she “would do it differently today.” The trial
prosecutor’s handwritten notes also indicate that she had a deal with the
co-defendant. (Her notes from a 1985 preparatory session with Mr. Draper
state, "allow you to plead guilty to M2 [Second degree murder] @ 10yrs").
None of this evidence was presented to the jury that sentenced Mr. Williams
to death and was not disclosed until the hearing that began last week.
You can read about the hearing before Judge Sarmina here:
The Board of Pardons has agreed to reconvene this Thursday, September 27,
to address the
request for reconsideration.
You may also be interested in a letter that 25 sexual assault and domestic
violence groups sent to the Philadelphia D.A.'s office last Friday. The
letter addresses the offensive comments that District Attorney Williams and
his representatives made regarding the child sexual abuse in the case.
Disturbingly, Seth Williams and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office
continue to refer to Terry Williams as a “prostitute” and “hustler” without
acknowledging that he was a minor -- a child at the time predatory
middle-aged men were manipulating him with money and gifts. Any suggestion
that sexual encounters between minors and middle-aged men are consensual
and that the minor is somehow “hustling” the older men is highly offensive,
and advocates have rightly renounced this characterization. See
Lastly, you should know that more than 370,000 voices have joined your call
for clemency for Terry Williams. See
. This unprecedented level of support would not have been possible
without you. See
www.terrywilliamsclemency.com. You are part of a factually, legally and
ethically just cause, and we thank you.