Truth becomes elusive in appeal of execution

Posted: September 26, 2012

A CONFESSED murderer whose hours of testimony on Monday were intended to help sway a judge to stop the execution of Terrance Williams had to explain why he lied on the stand decades ago and why he has appeared to utter several new lies.

The shaky performance by Marc Draper, 46, set the stage for closing arguments Tuesday morning in the evidentiary hearing before Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina.

Draper, incarcerated for 28 years of a life sentence after pleading guilty to his role in the 1984 murder of Amos Norwood, 56, stuck to the story he testified to when the hearing began last week: that Williams initiated the killing out of rage at having been in a five-year sexual relationship with Norwood.

Williams and Draper were both 18 and students at Cheyney State University at the time that they used tools to batter the Mount Airy husband and father to death in a cemetery.

After being arrested in July 1984, Draper, son of a city cop, now says that he told detectives of the sexual motive but that he was coached to say the killing was the result of a robbery.

Draper said he repeated that "lie" during a preliminary hearing in August 1984, and at Wiliams' 1986 trial because the detectives had threatened to charge him with the murder of a pregnant woman.

Draper reiterated Monday that he also told then-Assistant District Attorney Andrea Foulkes of the true motive.

"It was known to her from me that this whole situation - Amos Norwood and Terry Williams - it was a relationship, a sexual, homosexual relationship," Draper said under questioning by defense attorney Billy Nolas.

Draper said he decided to tell the truth after Williams' attorneys visited him in prison in January and related that he was out of appeals. In testimony last week, Foulkes denied having instructed Draper to lie.

The defense contends that if the jury had been told of the alleged sexual abuse, it would not have sentenced Williams to death. But Assistant District Attorney Robin Godfrey repeatedly attempted to poke holes in Draper's credibility by using his own words against him.

Draper said he had never been in trouble before Norwood's slaying. She reminded him of a May 1, 1984, incident for which he and Williams were charged with robbing an acquaintance of $400.

Draper still denied on Monday that he had participated in the heist. The charges were dropped after Williams was sentenced to death and Draper to life without parole in Norwood's killing.

Draper told Godfrey that he did not recall having gone to the home of Williams' girlfriend and stealing guns and money. But Godfrey reminded Draper that last March he gave Williams' attorneys a statement in which he admitted to stealing a gun from the woman that Williams sold.

Draper on Monday insisted that he and Williams had not robbed Norwood. But Godfrey reminded him that in the 1986 trial, he testified that he had taken $20 from the victim's sock, that Williams had taken the man's credit card and that both fled in his car.

The prosecution has credibility problems to overcome as well. While testifying last week, Foulkes could not explain a handful of notations she'd written during the murder investigation that suggested she was aware of a sexual link between Williams and Norwood.

The comments written by Foulkes included the words "faggot squad" and "Minister [a possible reference to churchgoing Norwood] - one of Terry's Johns," a reference to Norwood having touched the private parts of a 16-year-old boy at his church. There was also a notation that Williams, Draper and Herbert Hamilton - a 50-year-old man with whom Williams had been sexually involved and killed five months before he killed Norwood - had gone to the home of another man for a "sandwich."

On Thursday, meanwhile, Williams' defense team will be back before the state Board of Pardons, which rejected his bid for clemency last week.

The board has agreed to reconsider the matter due to the defense team's charge that the District Attorney's Office lied during last week's hearing regarding the existence of a deal from the 1980s to help Draper get a commuted sentence in exchange for testifying against Williams, who faces execution next month.

If the defense team's allegation convinces a majority of the board that a new clemency hearing is warranted, it will also be held on Thursday.

Contact Mensah M. Dean at or 215-568-8278.

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