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Latest clemency appeal cites prosecutor's inaccurate information

Lawyers for condemned Philadelphia killer Terrance Williams have asked the state Board of Pardons to reconsider Williams' petition for clemency, citing purportedly inaccurate information a prosecutor gave the board Monday at the hearing.

Lawyers for condemned Philadelphia killer Terrance Williams have asked the state Board of Pardons to reconsider Williams' petition for clemency, citing purportedly inaccurate information a prosecutor gave the board Monday at the hearing.

Though the board voted, 3-2, for clemency for Williams, 46, who is scheduled for execution Oct. 3, a unanimous vote was needed for the nonbinding recommendation to be sent to Gov. Corbett.

In a letter to the board Tuesday, Williams' lawyers asked for reconsideration because of how Assistant District Attorney Thomas Dolgenos answered a question from board member Harris Gubernick.

Gubernick asked about the validity of Williams' claim that the prosecutor in Williams' 1986 trial had promised to help his admitted accomplice, Marc Draper, get parole if he testified against Williams.

Dolgenos "stated that the federal courts had heard and rejected that allegation," wrote defense attorney Shawn Nolan. "That is simply false."

Gubernick and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley voted against clemency. But because no board member stated a reason for his vote, there was no way of knowing whether Dolgenos' answer had an impact.

In a statement Tuesday night, Tasha Jamerson, spokeswoman for District Attorney Seth Williams, called Nolan's letter "another eleventh-hour maneuver."

"No one in the District Attorney's Office has lied or made any type of false statements about this case," the statement said. "It has been Terrance Williams and his legal team who have conveniently twisted the truth to try and escape punishment for the murder he committed and was convicted of 28 years ago."

Officials of the Board of Pardons were not available to comment on the request or on whether reconsideration was possible under board rules.

Williams was convicted and condemned for the June 11, 1984, murder of Amos Norwood, a volunteer at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Germantown, whose charred body, the skull shattered by a tire iron, was found in Ivy Hill Cemetery.

Williams' lawyers are seeking a stay of execution, contending that the trial jury that convicted him was never told that Williams was sexually abused by Norwood for five years.

Williams' lawyers have also contended that Draper originally told police that sexual abuse was the motivation for Norwood's killing, but detectives told him to say the killing was during a robbery.

Nolan's letter maintains that Draper's statement recanting his trial testimony on the motive for the murder, as well as the purported promise by the prosecutor to get Draper to testify, were not discovered until this year, long after Williams' federal appeals.

The prosecutor's alleged promise to Draper and Draper's new statement on the 1984 killing are to be the subjects of a hearing Thursday on a motion to stay execution before Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina.

Published