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Attorneys For Phila. Death Row Inmate Says Pa. Justice Has Conflict In Case

(Pa. Supreme Court chief justice Ron Castille, during an unrelated hearing.  Image from PCN television)

(Pa. Supreme Court chief justice Ron Castille, during an unrelated hearing. Image from PCN television)

(Capitol dome, Harrisburg, Pa.   File photo) Tony Romeo
  Tony Romeo is Harrisburg bureau chief for KYW Newsradio...
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By Tony Romeo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pennsylvania Supreme Court chief justice Ronald Castille is refusing to step away from the case of a death row inmate whose capital punishment could be reinstated.

Terrance Williams had originally been scheduled to be executed Wednesday night. He was convicted of murder in Philadelphia in 1986, when Castille was district attorney.

On Friday, a Philadelphia judge stayed Williams’ execution and vacated his death sentence, after citing new evidence that prosecutors withheld vital information from the jury (see related story).  But that ruling as been appealed to the state high court.

Chief Justice Castille, however, has declined to recuse himself from the case.

Lawyers for Williams had asked him to do so, claiming that authorizing prosecutors to seek the death penalty in the Williams case was one of Castille’s first official acts after becoming DA of Philadelphia, something the defense attorneys call a “clear conflict of interest.”

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