PA Execution Halted Due to Prosecutorial Misconduct
Terrance Williams has been on death row in Pennsylvania for 28 years. He was scheduled to be executed next week. Today a judge stopped the planned execution and overturned his death sentence because the prosecutor in his case, suppressed evidence and engaged in gamesmanship to get the death sentence. While the conviction stands, the judge ordered a new sentencing hearing.
A Philadelphia judge halted next week's scheduled execution of a teenage killer after finding the trial prosecutor suppressed evidence the victim was molesting boys, “sanitized” witness statements before giving them to the defense and lied about a secret deal she'd struck with the accomplice.
...Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina accused trial prosecutor Andrea Gelman Foulkes of “gamesmanship” in order to win the 1986 death-penalty case. “She did at times play games and take unfair measures to win,” Sarmina said Friday, reading aloud her lengthy ruling. “She wanted to win.”
Gelman Foukes is now an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia. She testified at a hearing in Willimas case last week and the judge said her testimony was "not credible." [More...]
Williams original trial lawyer has since been disbarred. Although federal courts found his performance "constitutionally deficient", they refused to vacate Williams' death sentence.
Since 1996, Williams has been represented by the federal public defender's office.
“That we were talking about executing somebody who meets his lawyer a day before trial is an indictment of the system. The fact we're talking about this new evidence a week before execution is a bigger indictment of the system,” public defender Victor Abreu said Friday.
Pennsylvania prosecutors say they will appeal today's decision.
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