New evidence hearing scheduled for death row inmate

Posted: September 16, 2012

DEFENSE ATTORNEYS for the Philadelphia man scheduled to be executed on Oct. 3 persuaded a judge Friday to schedule a hearing to hear testimony from witnesses whom the attorneys allege covered up evidence during the condemned man's 1986 trial.

The ruling, made over the objections of city prosecutors, was a ray of sunlight for Terrence Williams, 46, who is on deck to become the first person executed in Pennsylvania in 13 years.

He is on death row for the June 1984 murder of Amos Norwood, 56, a West Mount Airy chemist whom Williams beat to death with a tire iron, set on fire and robbed.

Williams' legal team contends that the then 18-year-old defendant killed Norwood in self-defense after years of sexual abuse, beginning when he was 13.

That fact, the defense team argued during the Friday hearing, had been kept from the jury by the prosecutor, Andrea Foulkes, and her star witness, Marc Draper, Williams' accomplice.

At Foulkes' requests, Draper told the jury that Williams' motive to kill Norwood was robbery, although Draper did not mention sexual abuse, said defense attorney Billy Nolas.

Had the jury heard about the sexual abuse, Nolas said, it may not have sentenced Williams to death.

Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina scheduled the hearing for Thursday to hear from Foulkes, who is now a federal prosecutor, and Draper, 46, who is serving life in prison for his part in Norwood's murder.

Before that hearing, Williams will be in Harrisburg on Monday for a clemency hearing before the state Board of Pardons, from which he is seeking to have his death sentenced commuted to life in prison without the chance for parole.


Contact Mensah M. Dean at deanm@phillynews.com or 215-568-8278.

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