Condemned man’s accomplice says he lied about robbery

Posted: September 25, 2012

The Philadelphia judge who is hearing condemned killer Terrance Williams' bid to stay his Oct. 3 execution has ordered lawyers to argue their positions Tuesday.

The decision by Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina followed four hours of testimony Monday by Marc Draper, Williams' admitted accomplice in the 1984 murder of Amos Norwood.

Draper, who is serving a life term after pleading guilty to second-degree murder and testifying against Williams at trial in 1986, told Sarmina that police pressured him to say Norwood's killing happened during a robbery and not because Williams' rage at Norwood for sexual abuse since he was 13.

In another development Monday, the state Board of Pardons announced it would vote Thursday on whether to reconsider Williams' plea to commute his death sentence to life without parole.

The five-person board, chaired by Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. in Harrisburg. If a majority votes yes, the board will hear the case at 2:30 p.m.

On Sept. 17, the board voted, 3-2, for clemency. A unanimous vote is needed for the nonbinding recommendation to go to Gov. Corbett.

Monday's testimony by Draper, 46, was key to Williams' effort to persuade Sarmina to stay what would be the state's first execution since 1999.

Draper's 1986 trial testimony supported the prosecutor's theory that Norwood, 56, was killed in a robbery in which Williams and Draper - then both 18-year-old freshmen at Cheyney University - took Norwood's car and credit cards and went to Atlantic City.

Draper, however, now says the robbery was opportunistic and happened after Norwood's death. He said that he told police Norwood's murder was sexually motivated but that they said robbery was "more credible" and threatened to charge him in another murder.

"I was scared," said Draper, recalling his July 20, 1984, interrogation. "I was young. I was never involved with police at all. They threatened me with Donna Friedman, with the death penalty and things of that nature. I was scared."

Friedman, 33, a Dresher woman with two young children, was 81/2 months pregnant when she was found July 5, 1984, in the trunk of her car in West Oak Lane. She had been beaten severely and shot twice in the head. The crime is unsolved.

Draper said the threats made him agree to testify that Norwood's June 11, 1984, murder was committed during a robbery.

Norwood's body, beaten in the head with a tire iron and set afire, was found propped against a headstone in Ivy Hill Cemetery in West Oak Lane, about 10 blocks from where Friedman's body was found a month later.

Andrea Foulkes, the city prosecutor at the 1986 trial, called Draper a liar in her testimony Thursday. Foulkes insisted she never suppressed evidence of a sexual motive and cited Williams' own testimony denying that he was present when Norwood was killed.


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

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