Terry Williams

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Click here to read the statement from attorneys for Terry Williams in response to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision to uphold Governor Wolf's temporary reprieve for Mr. Williams.

Click here to read the press release of June 17, 2015 about how Governor Wolf's temporary reprieve for Terry Williams is entirely consistent with Pennsylvania governors' use of the reprieve power for the last 300 years.

Click here to see long-hidden evidence that prosecutors knew Amos Norwood had a history of  sexually molesting kids.

Click here to see the people who have stated their support for clemency for Terry, including the victim's widow, jurors from Terry's trial, members of the community, and political and human rights organizations.

Terry at age 17.
Source: Germantown High School
Current photo of Terry. 
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

CASE UPDATE: On February 29, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Williams v. Pennsylvania, which addresses judicial bias in a death penalty case. Attorneys for Terry Williams assert that the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments were violated by former Pennsylvania State Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille's failure to recuse himself from adjudicating the case. Chief Justice Castille was the elected District Attorney of Philadelphia through the trial, capital sentencing, and direct appeal proceedings in Mr. Williams’ case. As District Attorney, he personally approved the decision to pursue capital punishment against Mr. Williams. He later campaigned successfully for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, “proclaiming his responsibility for the death sentences obtained during his tenure” (Brief for Petitioner, p. 8), which included Mr. Williams’ death sentence.  

While on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Chief Justice Castille voted to overturn the decision from the lower court which vacated Mr. Williams' death sentence. The lower court found that the Philadelphia District Attorney's office, under Chief Justice Castille's leadership, had withheld evidence that Mr. Williams’ victim had sexually abused him. 

Eight groups have filed amicus briefs in support of Petitioner in Williams v. Pennsylvania, supporting Mr. Williams' assertion that Chief Justice Castille was required to have recused himself from consideration of Mr. Wiliams' case at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

For all legal briefs and other relevant case documents in the matter of Williams v. Pennsylvania, please click here.

Terry Williams - Case Background

Terrance Williams, known to his friends and family as "Terry," suffered from years of horrific sexual abuse. Mr. Williams' tragic history of sexual abuse by older males, which began when he was only six years old, led to the crime for which he was sentenced to die. For over 25 years, prosecutors with the Philadelphia District Attorney's office hid the truth about the crime in Terry's capital case, that the victim had repeatedly sexually abused Terry during his youth.

Terry's case has been the subject of an unprecedented outpouring of support from prominent groups and individuals across Pennsylvania. Among those who have publicly called for Terry's death sentence to be commuted are the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, nearly 20 other state coalitions against sexual violence, over three dozen child advocates, several human rights organizations, and dozens of former prosecutors and judges, law professors, mental health professionals, and faith leaders.

For more background on Terry’s case, read the Case Overview.

Pennsylvania should not execute Terry Williams because:

  • Terry was only 18 years old at the time of the crime for which he was sentenced to death and the jury did not know about his history of childhood sexual abuse and the psychological impact on someone as young as Terry; 

  • Jurors have stated that they would not have voted for death if they had known about his sexual abuse and ineligibility of parole; and