Testimony wraps up in stay of execution hearing for convicted killer

Story highlights

  • Terrance Williams convicted of murder after beating a man to death with a tire iron in 1984
  • His attorneys say evidence he was sexually abused by the man was withheld from the trial
  • Prosecutors say the killer is trying tricks to escape the death penalty
  • Williams' execution is scheduled for October 3
Attorneys for a convicted killer will focus on a former prosecutor's notes when they argue Tuesday their client should not die by lethal injection in nine days.
No one disputes that Terrance Williams beat Amos Norwood to death with a tire iron in 1984 or that he should be in prison.
But the defense team says information that Norwood had allegedly sexually abused Williams was withheld from the trial, and his life should be spent in a cell.
"One of the strongest pieces of our case it that, as we heard in court on Thursday for the first time ever, that in the prosecutor's own file, in her own handwriting, there was evidence that Mr. Norwood had been previously accused of touching boys," attorney Shawn Nolan told CNN. "The prosecutors have known about that evidence throughout the whole history of this litigation."
The judge overseeing the stay of execution hearing, M. Teresa Sarmina, referred last week to the notes of Andrea Foulkes, who was the prosecutor in Williams' 1986 trial, which showed Foulkes had heard about possible incidents of Norwood abusing boys. The notes also referred to Norwood as a "john" for Williams.
Williams' accomplice, Marc Draper, continued his testimony Monday and prosecutors tried to portray Williams as male prostitute rather than a victim of sexual abuse.
"The evidence is that he was preyed upon for years and years by different individuals and that's not what a male prostitute is," Nolan said.
The sexual abuse allegedly began when Williams was 6 years old, his attorneys have said.
Nolan said that at the time of trial, Williams was just an 18-year-old with deep, dark secrets and like many sexual abuse victims he didn't want to make them public.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams wrote an editorial for the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday, saying Williams "has tried every trick to escape his sentence."
"The most noticeable thing about this case is not the 'new evidence,'" he wrote. "It's the willingness of some people to believe every defense claim as if it were gospel truth, without even taking the time to look at all the facts."
The defense has argued that the jurors who convicted Williams more than 25 years ago were told that it was a robbery-homicide case and never learned of the alleged sexual abuse.
A juror on the original case told CNN she feels as if she was "betrayed."
"We weren't given everything that we needed to know to give this guy a fair trial," Diane Brown said. She said that if the jury had known about the abuse allegations they would have voted differently.
Draper, who is serving a life sentence for his involvement in the murder, testified that Williams had been in a relationship with Norwood and added that prosecutors didn't want to hear him explain "this was about a homosexual relationship."
He said earlier in a sworn statement that authorities at the time had pushed him not to disclose that Williams had been routinely sexually abused by Norwood, and that the abuse was Williams' primary motive to kill.
Foulkes said Thursday she thought Williams had targeted Norwood because Williams thought he was gay, and that Draper never informed her of any alleged abuse.
"Norwood was never associated with Williams having sex or sexual relations," she testified.
With testimony complete, the judge will hear arguments from the prosecution and defense on Tuesday.
Announcing the scheduled execution last month, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's office described the brutal Philadelphia killing.
Williams and Draper led Norwood, who was 56, to an area near a cemetery, forced him to lie on the ground, tied him up, gagged him and stole his valuables, the governor's office said in a statement.
"Williams and Draper repeatedly beat the man with a tire iron and a socket wrench and then drove away in the victim's car. Williams later returned and burned Norwood's body," the statement said.
The state's Board of Pardons on September 17 failed to reach the unanimous agreement required to recommend clemency. Three members of the five-person panel voted in favor of asking Corbett to consider granting clemency. But two other board members voted against the petition.
Williams, 46, is scheduled to be executed on October 3.
Since the execution date was set, there have been a number of high-profile supporters calling for clemency in the case, including Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly. More than 360,000 people have signed an online petition asking authorities to spare Williams' life. Norwood's widow has also asked for the execution to be called off.
But Norwood's daughter wants the execution to go forward, the Philadelphia district attorney's office said Monday.