The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has refused to overturn the stay of execution for death row inmate Terrance Williams. The state asked for an emergency appeal of the lower court stay because the death warrant for Williams was set to run out at midnight Wednesday.
Lawyer Shawn Nolan says Williams is relieved to learn his appeals will continue, and he was never moved to Rockview prison in Centre County prison where he would have been executed by lethal injection. The 46-year-old Williams remains on death row at the state prison in Greene County, where his lawyers spoke with him by phone after the high court ruling Wednesday afternoon.
Last week Philadelphia Judge M. Teresa Sarmina’s stayed the execution saying prosecutors had suppressed evidence that Williams as a teen had been repeatedly sexually abused by the Phialdelphia man he killed in 1984. The judge said jurors would have opted for a lesser sentence, had the evidence been admitted.
Governor Tom Corbett says since Judge Sarmina ordered Williams to be re-sentenced, the question of whether the convicted murderer should still be put to death has become more complicated.
"Based on the status of the case prior to her action, the answer has to be yes. Now let’s take a look and see what happens as a result of her decision."
Corbett made his remarks on the Radio Pennsylvania show, Ask the Governor. About 200 people are on death row in Pennsylvania. Corbett says the judicial process of death penalty cases, from sentencing to execution, takes years in Pennsylvania not because of state laws, but because of the pace in the U-S Court of Appeals that takes Pennsylvania cases.
“It’s when it gets to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that it bogs down. And it's the whole process, and I think the whole process from the state court to the federal court system, has to be addressed at this point,” said Corbett.