08 January 2018 :
Former death-row prisoner Terrance Williams, 51, Black, has been resentenced to life without parole. Williams's case resulted in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on judicial bias (see June 9, 2016), after Philadelphia District Attorney Ron Castille—who had authorized seeking the death penalty against Williams—became a justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and participated in deciding an appeal that overturned a lower court decision that had reversed Williams's death sentence. When he was 17 years old, Williams killed 50-year-old Herbert Hamilton. It was January 1984, and he reportedly lured Hamilton, who had allegedly repeatedly sexually abused the teen, and stabbed and beat him with a baseball bat until he died. 6 months later, Williams, then 18, and his friend Marc Draper lured Amos Norwood to a cemetery, where they beat him to death with a tyre iron. They later stole his car and took off to Atlantic City, New Jersey. After surrendering himself to the police in July 1984, Williams was eventually convicted of 3rd-degree murder in the death of Hamilton and was sentenced to 27 years. For Norwood's death, however, he was convicted of 1st-degree murder and sentenced to death. Williams, however, had been repeatedly raped as a child, and Norwood and Williams were allegedly among the perpetrators. Several others accused Norwood of sexually abusing them while they were young boys. Many of those involved in his original trial have publicly changed their minds since Williams was sentenced to death. 5 jurors signed statements saying they wouldn't have voted for capital punishment if they had known of the evidence of sexual abuse. In 2012, Norwood's wife Mamie signed a declaration that she did not want Williams to be executed for her late husband's murder. Barbara Harris, the daughter of Norwood disagrees. She says it's time for Williams' sentence to be carried out. A lower court in Pennsylvania found that the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office had suppressed evidence that Norwood had sexually abused Williams. In the 1980s, however, Ronald Castille was district attorney and personally approved the decision to pursue capital punishment against Williams. Castille later became Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice and refused to recuse himself from consideration of the inmate's death penalty - despite the lower court's finding that the district attorney's office had suppressed evidence under Castille. On June 9, 2016, the US Supreme Court ruled in a 5-to-3 vote that Terry Williams' constitutional rights had been violated. Today Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina sentenced Williams to LWOP.