The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is preparing to execute Terrance “Terry” Williams on October 3, 2012, in spite of staunch opposition to his execution from the victim’s widow, five jurors from trial, child advocates, former prosecutors and judges, faith leaders, mental health professionals, law professors and others.
I urgently appeal to Governor Tom Corbett, the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, and District Attorney Seth Williams to spare Terrance Williams’ life and allow him to be sentenced to life without parole.
Throughout his childhood, Terry suffered prolonged violent physical and sexual abuse from older males. Born into poverty with a violently abusive mother and absent father, Terry faced abuse and neglect in his home that made him vulnerable to sexual predators. He was first raped by an older boy when he was only six years old, and he continued to suffer sexual abuse for the next twelve years. Like too many other victims of child sexual abuse, Terry received no counseling or support to help him deal with the repeated traumas he endured; in fact, some of the people who were supposed to help Terry preyed on him.
As a teenager, Terry became acquainted with two middle-aged men who used their influence as a church leader and as a sports booster to get access to young boys. These men sexually abused and brutally exploited Terry. After years of suffering unimaginable horrors, when he was 17- and 18-years old, Terry killed these two men – and now faces death.
Terry’s tragic history of abuse was never presented at trial. Because of this, several jurors who sentenced him to death now support commuting his sentence to life without parole. At the time of trial, Terry was traumatized and ashamed of the violence he suffered, and his lawyer did not investigate obvious signs of abuse. The jury thus did not hear any evidence about the relentless abuse Terry faced, nor did they know that the two men he killed were in fact his abusers.
Jurors have stated that that if they had known all the facts about Terry's background and his abuse by the men he killed, they would not have voted for death.
The widow of the man whose killing resulted in Terry’s death sentence has forgiven Terry and does not want him to be executed. She has found peace and closure and does not wish to see any more loss of life. The victim’s widow has expressed herhope that Governor Corbett, the Board of Pardons, and District Attorney Williams will show Terry mercy.
In addition to the victim’s widow and jurors, there has been an unprecedented outpouring of support from prominent groups and individuals across Pennsylvania. Child advocates, former prosecutors and judges, faith leaders, mental health professionals, law professors and others have publicly supported commuting Terry’s sentence to life without parole.
Terry is deeply remorseful for his actions and prays that the families of the men he killed can find peace.
You can read more about Terry's case, including the numerous letters in support of clemency, here: www.TerryWilliamsClemency.com
I join in asking Governor Corbett, the Board of Pardons, and District Attorney Williams to spare Terrance Williams’ life.
Grant clemency to Terrance Williams, survivor of child sexual abuse
On October 3, 2012, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is preparing to execute Terrance "Terry" Williams, who suffered prolonged violent physical and sexual abuse from older males beginning when he was just 6 years old. The jury never heard evidence of his history of abuse, or the fact that his crime was directly related to the violence he endured. Commonwealth officials should spare his life.