Lawyers for death row inmate assail prosecutor’s facts

Posted: September 19, 2012

Lawyers for condemned Philadelphia killer Terrance "Terry" Williams Tuesday afternoon asked the state Board of Pardons to reconsider Williams' petition for clemency, citing purportedly inaccurate information a prosecutor provided the board at the hearing on Monday.

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

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

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

"He [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 although there is no way of knowing if Dolgenos' answer factored into their thinking.

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

Tasha Jamerson, spokeswoman for Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, said prosecutors involved in the case were not immediately available for comment.

Williams was convicted and condemned for the June 11, 1984 murder of Amos Norwood, who was last seen leaving his Mount Airy home to volunteer at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Germantown. Norwood's charred body, his skull shattered by a tire iron, was found four days later 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 Williams' admitted accomplice, Marc Draper, originally told police that sexual abuse was the motivation but that detectives told him that say the killing was during a robbery.

Prosecutors have argued that there is no evidence Williams was ever sexually abused and said his new claim is an attempt to manipulate his way out of execution.

Contact Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985,, or @joeslobo on Twitter.

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