Terry Williams

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Click here to read the statement from attorneys for Terry Williams in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-3 decision in favor of Mr. Williams in Williams v. Pennsylvania.

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 June 9, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, 5-3, that death row prisoner Terry Williams’ constitutional rights were violated when former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille refused to recuse himself from consideration of Mr. Williams’ death penalty appeal.  The Court remanded the case, Williams v. Pennsylvania, for consideration by a neutral, unbiased court (Click here for the opinion).

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. 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. 

As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion, the due process guarantee that "no man can be a judge in his own case would have little substance if it did not disqualify a former prosecutor from sitting in judgment of a prosecution in which he or she had made a critical decision.” Justice Kennedy also found that the fact that former Chief Justice Castille’s vote was not the deciding vote on the multi-member panel of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court does not “lessen the unfairness.”

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