Phila. man, 46, could be executed Oct. 3

Posted: September 12, 2012

BEFORE RULING on whether to stay the Oct. 3 execution of Terrance Williams, a Philadelphia judge on Monday asked Williams' attorneys to give her more information about evidence allegedly kept from the jury that convicted him.

Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina gave the defense team until Thursday to turn over the information.

Williams, 46, of Philadelphia, is in line to become the first person executed in Pennsylvania since 1999 for murdering Amos Norwood, 56, in 1984.

He lured the man to a cemetery, beat him to death with a tire iron and set his body on fire with gasoline.

Williams stole his victim's cash, credit cards, a calling card and his car and drove with friends to Atlantic City to gamble, Deputy District Attorney Ron Eisenberg told Sarmina.

Eisenberg said that the case had been litigated all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and that it is time to carry out the sentence.

Defense attorney Billy Nolas argued that Williams had been sexually abused by Norwood since the age of 13 and that he killed him in response to the abuse at age 18.

Mark Draper, Williams' accomplice in the murder who is serving a life sentence, knew of the abuse but was told by homicide detectives and city prosecutors not to testify about it at trial, Nolas said.

Instead, they told Draper to testify that Williams' motive for the killing was robbery, Nolas said.

However Sarmina rules, Williams' legal team also is trying to save his life with a clemency petition it has filed with the state Board of Pardons. The petition, which seeks to have his death sentence reduced to life in prison without parole, states that Williams was sexually abused throughout his life by several men, including Norwood, who allegedly raped him the day before the murder.

A clemency hearing in Harrisburg is scheduled for Sept. 17.

Norwood's widow has joined with those who are trying to save his life.

Williams also is serving a 27-year sentence for the third-degree murder of Herbert Hamilton, who he claimed also had sexually abused him. At age 17 Williams lured Hamilton to bed, stabbed him 21 times and beat him with a baseball bat.

Contact Mensah M. Dean at or 215-568-8278. Follow him on Twitter @MensahDean.

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