A Philadelphia judge has halted the execution of Terrance Williams after he found the trial prosecutor suppressed evidence that the victim was molesting boys, “sanitized” witness statements before he gave them to the defense, and also lied about a secret deal she struck with the accomplice.
The judge has also tossed out Williams’ death sentence and granted him a new sentencing hearing, reports NBC News. Williams has been on death row for the past 28 years and was set to be executed on Wednesday.
The 46-year-old convicted killer could still face execution if prosecutors are able to successfully appeal Friday’s ruling. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams planned a news conference for Friday afternoon to talk about the ruling.
Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina made the ruling and accused trial prosecutor Andrea Gelman Foulkes of “gamesmanship” in order to win the death-penalty case against Terrance Williams in 1986. in her lengthy ruling on Friday, Sarminastated:
“She did at times play games and take unfair measures to win. She wanted to win.”
Williams was not in court for the ruling, but his aunt, daughter, and other supporters broke into applause at the ruling. The judge also deemed Foulkes’ testimony about her work in the case last week as not credible. Judge Sarmina stated that the jury in 1986 may not have voted for the death penalty if they knew more about Amos Norwood, the victim.
NBC San Diego notes that Williams has now claimed that Norwood abused him from when he was 13 until he was killed. The victim was a chemist and church deacon and spent long hours working with underprivileged boys through a theater program at church.
Williams was a star high school quarterback from a troubled background. He was secretly having sex with older men, who then gave him money, clothes, and gifts. Along with Norwood’s death, Williams also killed 50-year-old Herb Hamilton five months before in a gruesome and clearly sexual slaying.
Terrance Williams, who was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Wednesday, will wait on death row until his new sentencing.