By Tony Romeo
HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – A clemency board in Harrisburg today failed to approve a clemency request for a former Philadelphia man who, in less than three weeks, is scheduled to become the first person executed in Pennsylvania in 13 years.
And, it would be the first contested execution in the state in 50 years.
Each side had an hour to make its case. Attorneys claim that Terrance Williams, 18 at the time, killed Amos Norwood in 1984 after years of abuse, and not during a robbery as alleged at trial.
Tracy Forray, secretary of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, says the state constitution requires a unanimous vote if the five-member panel is to recommend clemency. The vote today was 3-2 in favor of clemency.
“In 1997, the Constitution was amended for inmates on death row, or lifers, that a unanimous vote is required. It was a majority vote prior to that,” Forray said before today’s vote.
Even if the board had recommended clemency, Forray pointed out that Governor Tom Corbett would have had the final say.
“The board only recommends -– if there is a unanimous vote. It’s a recommendation, and then the governor has the ultimate decision on whether to grant clemency or not.”
Meanwhile, a court hearing is scheduled later this week on allegations that evidence of the true motive for the killing was suppressed at trial, as defense attorneys seek to stop Williams’ October 3rd execution.